Kurdistan Freedom Falcons

Kurdistan Freedom Falcons

The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (Kurdish: "Teyrêbazên Azadiya Kurdistan", TAK), also called the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks, is a militant paramilitary group that has committed attacks throughout Turkey, operating in southern Turkey and northern Iraq with a goal of securing Kurdish secession from Turkey.cite news|title=Militant Kurds warn of wreaking havoc |publisher=Houston Chronicle|date= 2006-08-30|url=http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/world/4149734.html] cite news|title=The Big Question: Who is behind the bombings in Turkey, and what do they want? |publisher=The Independent|date= 2006-08-30|url=http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article1222557.ece] It is unclear whether or not TAK is connected to any other Kurdish nationalist organizations, though it is believed they split off from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) when they became dissatisfied with the group's tactics.cite news|title=Kurdish rebels say they planted Turkish resort bomb|publisher=Reuters AlertNet|date= 2006-08-29|url=http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L29922136.htm]

The group goes by other names including, but not limited to Kurdish Vengeance Brigade, Kurdistan Freedom Falcons Organizationcite news|title=Serial bomb blasts rock Turkey|publisher=IBNLive|date= 2006-08-29|url=http://www.ibnlive.com/news/serial-bomb-blasts-rock-turkey/20044-2.html] , Kurdistan Liberation Hawkscite news|title=Turkey Thwarts Bomb Attack in İzmir|publisher=Spiegel Online|date= 2006-09-29|url=http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,434125,00.html] .

Most TAK attacks are directed against tourist areas in Istanbul, Ankara, and southern coastal resort areas. In the first three months of 2006, they claimed responsibility for eight bombings that killed two and injured 47.

Founding Philosophy

The TAK are seeking an independent Kurdish state that includes some of southeastern Turkey. The group has been violently opposed to the Turkish government’s policies towards its Kurdish minority. [cite web|url=http://tkb.org/Group.jsp?groupID=4381 |title=Kurdistan Freedom Hawks|publisher=MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base|lastaccessmonthday=August 19|lastaccessyear=2006]

TAK first appeared in 2004. There is substantial debate on the origin, composition, and affiliations of the group. Some analysts believe that the group is either a small splinter of or an alias for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the most active Kurdish militant group.cite news|title=Turkish blast injures woman|publisher=Telegraph|date= 2006-08-30 |url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/08/30/uturkey.xml] cite news|title=Blast in Turkish port wounds one-officials|publisher=Reuters|date= 2006-08-30|url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/30/AR2006083000638.html] Others, however, suggest that the group may be totally independent of the PKK, or only loosely connected to it. PKK leaders deny having any control over the TAK. There are some indications that the TAK was founded by disgruntled or former members of the PKK. Though the TAK has not articulated a specific platform beyond enmity with the Turkish regime, it is likely the group at least supports the PKK’s goal of an independent Kurdistan.


TAK has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks against businesses and government and legal institutions since 2004. Its earliest attacks were small, non-lethal bombings in public places which the group described as “warning actions.” These warnings, however, had become deadly by the summer of 2005. 20 people were injured when a bomb exploded at Cesme, a coastal resort town on July 10th. Less than one week later, five people were killed and more than a dozen wounded when a bus was blown up in the seaside town of Kuşadası.cite news|title=Turkey rocked by more blasts |publisher=The Globa and Mail|date= 2006-08-29|url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20060829.TURKEY29/TPStory/TPInternational/Africa/] cite news|title='Tourists were few. Now none will come'|publisher=The Herald|date= 2006-08-29|url=http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/68998.html] This type of attack against a tourist target is perhaps the signature tactic of the TAK. The group uses terrorism to discourage tourism in Turkey by attacking targets such as hotels and ATMs. The TAK claims to have no desire to kill foreigners, only that it wishes to cut off a key source of revenue for the Turkish government.cite news|title=Turkey bombs: 'Police hunt two'|publisher=CNN|date= 2006-08-29|url=http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/08/29/turkey.blasts.reut/] [cite news|title=Turkish police 'foil another attack in İzmir'|publisher=Times Online|date= 2006-08-29|url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2332872,00.html]

In 2006 the groups attacks continued, including a failed plot to attack a bus carrying legal officials on April 12, 2006. Five of the group's members were arrested when the plot was broken up. The group also claimed responsibility for an April 5, 2006 attack on a district office of the Justice and Development Party in Istanbul.cite news|title=Timeline:Bomb blasts in Turkey|publisher=BBC|date= 2006-08-29|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5292122.stm] In March, one person was killed and thirteen injured when the TAK detonated a bomb near a bus station in Istanbul.

On August 28, 2006, The Kurdish Freedom Falcons attacked the resort area of Marmaris with three explosions, at least two of which bombs were hidden in garbage cans. In the resort city of Antalya, 20 were injured when another explosion went off and 3 were killed. A final bomb detonated in Turkey's largest city of Istanbul where more than 20 people were injured. A separate attack is claimed to have been stopped in the port city of İzmir when a raid turned up plastic explosives.cite news|title=Police search for two suspected bombers of Turkish resort|publisher=The Independent|date= 2006-08-29|url=http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article1222489.ece] The groups website states the rash of attacks are revenge for the imprisonment of Abdullah Ocalan, the figurehead for the armed Kurdish nationalist movement. [cite news|title=Kurdish rebel group claims weekend blasts in Turkey|publisher=Turkish Press|date= 2006-08-29|url=http://www.turkishpress.com/news.asp?id=139613]

On August 30, 2006, The town of Mersin was attacked via a bomb planted in a rubbish container on Inonu street, one person was injured. [cite news|title=1 Injured in Mersin Blast|publisher=Zaman Online|date= 2006-08-30|url=http://www.zaman.com/?bl=hotnews&alt=&trh=20060830&hn=36125] The bombing is believed to be linked to the recent attacks by the TAK, however they have not claimed responsibility. [cite news|title=One injured in Turkey explosion|publisher=BBC|date= 2006-08-30|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5298466.stm]

Designation as a Terrorist Organisation

The U.S. government designated TAK a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" organization on January 10, 2007cite web|author=|year=2008|url=http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/01/11/us.turkey/index.html?section=cnn_latest|title=U.S. labels Kurdish group as terrorist|format=HTML|publisher=CNN|accessdate=2008-01-11] . TAK also appears as one of the 48 groups and entities to which European Union's Common Position 2001/931/CFSP on the application of specific measures to combat terrorism applies [Council Common Position 2008/586/CFSP updating Common Position 2001/931/CFSP on the application of specific measures to combat terrorism and repealing Common Position 2007/871/CFSP, "Official Journal of the European Union" L 188/71, 16.07.2008. Available from the WWW:http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2008:188:0071:0076:EN:PDF] and 45 international terrorist organisations in the list of proscribed terrorist groups of the UK Home Office [ [http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/security/terrorism-and-the-law/terrorism-act/proscribed-groups Proscribed terrorist groups | Home Office ] ] .

However the organisation is not listed among the 12 active terrorist organisation in Turkey according to Counter-Terrorism and Operations Department of Directorate General for Security (Turkish police) [TÜRKİYE'DE HALEN FAALİYETLERİNE DEVAM EDEN BAŞLICA TERÖR ÖRGÜTLERİ: http://www.egm.gov.tr/temuh/terorgrup1.html] suggesting that its attacks have ceased.


External links

* [http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L29874032.htm Chronology of Turkish Bombings] "Reuters AlertNet", 08-29-06

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