The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is involved in activities such as drug smuggling, trafficking in human beings and money laundering in European Union states, according to a report released by the EU’s police agency, Europol.
“Information obtained from EU Member States shows, for instance, that both the PKK/Kongra-Gel are actively involved in drugs and human trafficking, the facilitation of illegal immigration, credit card skimming, money laundering and fraud for the purpose of funding terrorist (support) operations,” Europol said in its 2011 EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report.
Turkey has repeatedly criticized EU countries for not effectively fighting the PKK and its umbrella organization, Kongra-Gel, particularly by not prohibiting its fund raising and propaganda activities.PKK/Kongra-Gel has been on the EU’s list of terrorist organizations.
“The PKK/Kongra-Gel … also collects money from their members, using labels like ‘donations’ and ‘membership fees,’ but are in fact extortion and illegal taxation. In addition to organized extortion campaigns, there are indications that the PKK/Kongra-Gel are actively involved in money laundering, illicit drugs and human trafficking, as well as illegal immigration inside and outside the EU,” the report said. “In March 2010, a simultaneous and joint operation against the PKK/Kongra-Gel was carried out in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Turkey. Investigations into the PKK/Kongra-Gel were also conducted in Italy, Romania and Slovakia. These investigations into PKK/Kongra-Gel activities were linked to recruitment, financing, logistical support, propaganda and training camps.”
The report also mentioned propaganda activities and said Roj TV, a Europe-based television station which Turkey says is a mouthpiece for the PKK, is used by the group in such activities.
“Separatist groups use international propaganda and their own media (TV and radio stations). Member states report that separatist organizations, such as the [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] LTTE, ETA and the PKK/Kongra-Gel, spread their ideas at cultural gatherings, during demonstrations and sporting events, and through television channels, such as the Tamil Television Network and Roj TV,” said the report.
The report also said the PKK was pursuing a “double strategy” of resorting to violence in Turkey, while seeking legitimacy abroad. It said: “The announcement, in June 2010, of the PKK/Kongra-Gel intention to enter a more violent period of its history was immediately followed by the declaration of a ceasefire which was, in turn, belied by the bomb attack in İstanbul in October 2010. No execution of attacks in the EU show the PKK/Kongra-Gel’s double strategy of armed struggle in Turkey while at the same time seeking to gain a greater degree of legitimacy abroad.”
The report said the PKK was likely to pursue this double strategy. It also noted that the terrorism threat posed by the group to EU states can currently be considered as “relatively low.”
“However the large number of PKK/Kongra-Gel militants living in the EU and the continuing support activities in the EU, like large demonstrations organized in the past, show that the PKK/Kongra-Gel is in a position to mobilize its constituency at any time and is an indication that it maintains the capability to execute attacks in the EU,” it added.