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Turkish Authorities Uncover PKK’s Nationwide Sabotage Plot

A report by the financial crimes board says the terrorist group PKK sought to attack marinas and railroads, and set forests on fire, Turkish media reported on Monday

The Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) of Türkiye helped authorities to discover a PKK plot for sabotage acts in Türkiye. A one-year investigation revealed by the broadcaster TRT Haber netted 38 suspects in operations in Istanbul and other cities.

MASAK handles Türkiye’s fight against financing of the terrorist group. Investigating cash transfers between suspects linked to the terrorist group, the board exposed the group’s money traffic.

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul launched a probe upon the report and further exposed a wider network.

The probe found that the terrorist group had a “sabotage team,” and the team regularly paid money to suspects tasked with sabotage missions. Authorities caught suspects before they carried out their plots after they ran reconnaissance on potential targets.

M.U., one of the suspects, identified only by their initials, collaborated with authorities and confessed to the PKK’s plans. He said he was willing to join the group but they told him that they can only trust him if he commits an “act” for the group. “I was sent to Tekirdağ (a northwestern province) in January 2021. They wanted me to do reconnaissance on the natural gas tank of a factory on the road to Çorlu (an industrial hub in the province). I took videos and they wired me money. In January 2022, I traveled to (popular tourism destination) Bodrum. Again, I did reconnaissance on marinas. We were to set them on fire. In April 2021, I went to (the central province of) Eskişehir. They asked me to sabotage a high-speed train line. For what I did, they paid me TL 185,000 ($6,380),” he said.

A.K., another suspect, confessed that they were ordered to set forests on fire “for propaganda purposes.” “They sent me sulfuric acid and gave instructions on preparing a mix to start a fire. I was instructed to burn forests and greenhouses. They told me that this way, they could blame the government for fires, claiming that the fires started to clear forests for residential development.”

Last month, police captured some 11 suspects linked to the PKK in an operation in Istanbul and a person who ordered Syrian nationals to start and film wildfires in southern Türkiye in 2021 on behalf of the PKK, was among the suspects.

Massive forest fires struck Türkiye in the summer of 2021, starting in the resort city of Antalya and spreading to 52 provinces in the Mediterranean, Aegean, Marmara, western Black Sea and southeastern Anatolia regions. The flames claimed at least eight lives and injured over 1,520 others. Their almost consecutive nature raised concerns they might be the result of a string of arson attacks, namely by the PKK, whose de-facto leader Murat Karayılan previously hailed the method of using arson in terrorist attacks. In October 2020, the PKK claimed an attack where four arsonists linked to the “Children of Fire Initiative” burned forestland in southeastern Hatay province. The so-called “initiative” was responsible for many arsons in recent years and it is known for its close ties to the PKK. It has claimed the environmental destruction they caused was a so-called “act of revenge.”

The group has turned to “environmental terrorism” much more frequently in recent years after focusing on such acts of attacks and sabotage in the 1990s and 2000s from time to time, according to a report by the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA). The report, analyzing acts of “environmental terrorism” and the PKK’s forest fire sabotage, details how the terrorist organization has turned to forest fires to hurt Türkiye’s economy as it actively tried to scare away tourists while also trying to shift the blame onto the Turkish government. The forest fires started by the PKK have been largely ignored by the international media, notes the report.

The PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union – is responsible for over 40,000 civilian and security personnel deaths in Türkiye during an almost four-decadelong campaign of terror.

Source: Daily Sabah