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Terror Group PKK Uses Germany As Place Of Retreat, Place To Attract Followers, Raise Funds, Says German Spy Chief

18.06.2024 17:42

Thomas Haldenwang says terror group reaps millions of euros each year from its followers, but recently its revenues fell, probably due to investigations by German authorities.

The PKK terror group last year recruited more followers in Germany, which it sees as a place of retreat, but recently its revenues started to fall, the country's spy chief said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Thomas Haldenwang said the PKK terror group has been monitored by the domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, for many years.

"There has been a slight increase in the number of people supporting the PKK. We now estimate this to be 15,000, compared to 14,500 in the previous year," he told reporters, presenting the agency's annual security report.

Haldenwang admitted that the terror group has been using Germany as a retreat – a place to refinance and recruit – while trying to portray itself as a "moderate" group to gain more acceptance in the country.

Saying the terror group has so far refrained from committing serious crimes in Germany, he explained that it had focused more on propaganda, recruitment, and fund-raising activities.

"Annual campaigns actually bring in millions in money for the PKK, although this year saw a significant decline," he said, adding that financial investigations carried out by German authorities probably contributed to this result.

The terrorist group raised at least €16 million ($17 million) in Germany last year in various fundraising campaigns, according to German estimates.

The PKK is classified as an "ethno-nationalist" and "separatist" terrorist organization by the EU's law enforcement agency EUROPOL, and has been banned in Germany since 1993.

However, it remains active in the country with nearly 15,000 followers among the Kurdish immigrant population, according to the BfV.

New insights from report

According to the annual report, the PKK has the largest number of followers among foreign terrorist groups that are active in Germany.

Last year, PKK members committed 286 crimes, including violent attacks, resulting in both personal injury and property damage, it said.

The PKK has recruited more than 300 foreign fighters from Germany since 2013, and they were given military training in Syria and Iraq, said the report.

At least 41 of these foreign fighters died in battle zones, while nearly 160 returned to Germany in recent years, the report said, without giving any further details.

BfV analysts said the PKK has a strict hierarchical structure, and its units in Europe follow the instructions sent by the terror group's leadership, without any room for independent decision-making.

"In Europe, the PKK is trying to present a largely non-violent image, whereas in Türkiye it continues to carry out terrorist attacks," the analysts said.

According to the report, the PKK is carrying out its activities in Germany by using various associations as cover groups, which are gathered under an umbrella organization called KON-MED.

Ankara has long called on its NATO ally Germany to take more serious measures against the PKK, and ban its cover groups, which are used for the terror group's propaganda, recruitment, and funding activities.

In its nearly 40-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people. -

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