Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)

Patterns of Global Terrorism, 1999. United States Department of State, April 2000 (Government Documentation)

Established in 1974 as a Marxist-Leninist insurgent group primarily composed of Turkish Kurds. In recent years has moved beyond rural-based insurgent activities to include urban terrorism. Seeks to establish an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey, where population is predominantly Kurdish. Turkish authorities captured Chairman Abdullah Ocalan in Kenya in early 1999; after his trial in late June, Turkish State Security Court sentenced him to death. In August, Ocalan announced a "peace initiative," ordering members to refrain from violence and requesting dialogue with Ankara on Kurdish issues.

Primary targets are Turkish Government security forces in Turkey but also has been active in Western Europe against Turkish targets. Conducted attacks on Turkish diplomatic and commercial facilities in dozens of West European cities in 1993 and again in spring 1995. In an attempt to damage Turkey's tourist industry, the PKK has bombed tourist sites and hotels and kidnapped foreign tourists.

Approximately 10,000 to 15,000. Has thousands of sympathizers in Turkey and Europe.

Location/Area of Operation:
Operates in Turkey, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

External Aid:
Has received safehaven and modest aid from Syria, Iraq, and Iran. The Syrian Government claims to have expelled the PKK from its territory in October 1998.