Does PKK use drug addicts to conduct suicide attacks?

b275b734323921-56cc9c4a574ecFor the illegal Marxist organizations, a suicide attack is a last effort to stand up for themselves. Especially as a result of the successful operations in Eastern and South-eastern Anatolia against the organization, PKK has changed its strategy and started to go for suicide attacks by employing its urban settlements. In the previous periods there was a symbolical dimension for terrorist organizations which made suicide attacks meaningful to them, however, today they are mainly employed as the fastest way of getting results.

Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka were the first organization in the world to initiate suicide attacks. The Marxist, ethnic separatist organization has frequently employed suicide attacks. Tamil Tigers has established ‘Black Tigers’ within itself to conduct these suicide attacks. Similarly, PKK is using ‘TAK’ as a means of establishing suicide attacks.

The Black Tigers has conducted over 200 suicide attacks. Up until the Iraqi War, the two-thirds of all suicide attacks around the world were made by the militants of Tamil Tigers. In 2009, with the dissolution of Tamil Tigers, the use of suicide attacks as a method for terrorist attacks has come to an end.

After Tamil Tigers, the terror organization ISIS started to conduct suicide attacks. ISIS especially employed suicide attacks in its offensive against European states. It can be claimed that the reason why ISIS prefers suicide attacks is because as a method of terrorism it is fundamentally simple yet generates great amounts of impact. Such that, ISIS can train its sympathizers over the Internet to conduct suicide attacks and lock them onto their targets. ISIS, in motivating its militants to conduct suicide attacks, establishes its “own heaven” through a religious discourse.

A fundamental reason for ISIS to employ two brothers for a terrorist attack in Paris is to prevent getting caught by intelligence agencies. Another reason why suicide attacks have recently been frequently employed by terrorist attacks is because the risk of getting caught by intelligence organizations is minimal. Usually, intelligence organizations become aware of the attack only after they are conducted. This is because suicide attacks are conducted by micro units. It can be said that today the most troublesome method of attack for security intuitions to prevent is a suicide attack. In this regard, the question of how can Turkish security units prevent suicide attacks lately conducted by PKK comes to mind.


As a result of successful operations conducted by the Turkish Armed Forces during the fall period on Eastern and South-eastern Anatolia, PKK has lost a significant amount of manpower in the mountains and in the cities. Even right now, in all of the cities in the East, the state is stronger than in the metropolises of the West, both in terms of intelligence and authority. This is why rather than Eastern and South-eastern provinces, PKK now chooses western cities as its targets to conduct terrorist attacks.


PKK’s Kayseri Attack in December 2016

The terror attack in Beşiktaş, İstanbul was conducted by a 23-year-old terrorist named Burak Yavuz from Suruç. The attack in Kayseri was also a suicide attack, made immediately after the Beşiktaş attack. In both of these attacks a point of attention is that the terrorists who conducted them were militants with no previous criminal records, and as such, they did not attract any intelligence agencies. This strategy is making it harder for the Turkish intelligence units to catch terrorists before they conduct an attack.

Then, how come PKK is able to send these young people to their death, considering they are fully aware that they are going to die? Many can give an answer to this question in a simple way by using concepts such as ideology and ethnic belonging.

I am of the opinion that ideology and ethnicity are simply not enough to explain the motives when it comes to suicide attacks. So much so that, even Tamil Tigers who have, so to say, ‘invented’ suicide attacks, has used narcotics or “suicide drugs” to motivate its militants when sending them to their targets. An important fact that many commentators on TV miss today is that they have no information regarding how PKK employs the drug addict youth.

Merely emphasizing that the perpetrators of such attacks are from Eastern regions and are Kurdish may not be enough to produce positive strategies in preventing suicide attacks. Such that, while in comparison to previous decades, the exodus of Kurdish youth in the Eastern regions to the mountains to join PKK have partially started to be prevented.

However, the youth that now dwells in cities are still not looked after – which is why they turn to drugs. In other words, while the narcotics revenue of PKK as a whole is a great source of issue for Turkey, recently PKK-dependent drug addicts have also started to show their faces in our Eastern regions (in Van, Bitlis, Batman, Diyarbakır, and Urfa-Suruç). In the last analysis, if Turkey wants to prevent suicide attacks in the future, the biggest step it needs to take is to give priority to its social work in the East so as to save these kids that start using narcotics at the ages of 13-14 from becoming PKK-dependent addicts.

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