SHELTER IN IRAN ? – PKK moves to terror camp in Iran to attack Turkish targets

10 August 2012 / İSMAIL AVCI, HAKKARI – Zaman – The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has relocated some of its militants from PKK hideouts in the Kandil Mountains of northern Iraq to a terror camp on the Turkish-Iranian border, from where it is launching attacks against targets in Turkey, Today’s Zaman has learned.

The PKK has found an alternative base for itself in Şehidan camp, near the Şemdinli district of Hakkari, in an attempt to save its members from constant bombardment by Turkish military forces of PKK hideouts in northern Iraq.The PKK sees the Şehidan camp as a “safe area” for itself as the Turkish military does not have a mandate to carry out any cross-border operations in that region.

Senior PKK operatives, who also moved to the Şehidan camp, have already begun to commit acts of terrorism in the Turkish provinces of Hakkari, Van, Bitlis and Şırnak from this camp. According to security sources, Mehmet Can Gürhan, a PKK operative based in the Şehidan camp with the code name “Raşit Dostum,” masterminded the latest incidents in Şemdinli.

In Şemdinli, the PKK is reported to have attempted to kick-start an uprising in southeastern Turkey similar to the Arab Spring. The Turkish military launched a large-scale operation in the area last week after PKK members blocked the road of a village in the region and began interrogating villagers. Troops from neighboring battalions were dispatched to the region, killing around 100 PKK terrorists. Plans by the PKK to take Şemdinli under its control were exposed by PKK terrorists who surrendered to security forces earlier this year.

The Şehidan camp was used by PKK’s Iranian offshoot, a group called the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), for many years. The PKK last year withdrew its PJAK militants from Iran after operations carried out by Iranian Revolutionary Guards dealt a severe blow to the terrorist organization.

After the PJAK militants were moved to PKK bases in the Kandil Mountains, the PKK took control of the Şehidan camp.It is estimated that there are now 200 PKK terrorists in the Şehidan camp along with senior PKK operatives. PKK militants, who used to receive training in the PKK bases in the Kandil Mountains, are now given training in the Şehidan camp. The PKK used to give a one-and-a-half-year training program to its members before they were involved in terrorist attacks, but has reduced the training period to six months due to a lack of militants. As a result of this, the ages of PKK terrorists who have recently been killed in clashes with security forces range between 17 and 20.

In the meantime, the PKK has also moved back to the Kazan Valley and Kavaklı region near Hakkari, from where it withdrew last year after it was dealt a severe blow by the Turkish security forces. The Turkish military killed more than 100 PKK terrorists, including senior PKK operatives, in operations in Kazan Valley near Çukurca last year. Thanks to operations against the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organization which encompasses the PKK, in Hakkari and its districts, acts of terrorism in city centers have reduced significantly; however, the same success cannot be achieved in rural parts of Hakkari.

The PKK has begun to collects extortion money in Kavaklı region, which it calls “collecting taxes.”

The PKK also has control over the municipal tenders. It ensures that tenders are given to PKK sympathizers or front companies and receives at least 10 to 20 percent of the cost of public tenders. Those who refuse to give the PKK this money are taken to the rural areas where they are interrogated.

PKK extorts money from village guards, too

The PKK also asks state-sponsored village guards to give one month’s salary to the PKK every year as a “tax.” When village guards refuse to do so, they are kidnapped by the PKK militants and beaten for hours.

A village guard in Hakkari, E.D., has just applied to security forces to complain about the PKK’s attempts to extort money from village guards, saying that he will be killed if he does not give them a month’s salary. Yet, no step has yet been taken to address the problem and E.D. said he is trying to find the money to give the PKK by borrowing from his relatives.A security official who spoke to Today’s Zaman on condition of anonymity said: “The state should not let its soldiers be attacked. It should find the terrorists and render them ineffective. Security forces in Hakkari generally take action after they are attacked. If it goes on like this, there will be more losses on the part of the security forces.”