There are more than 14,000 sympathizers of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Germany, according to a report by the country’s domestic intelligence service.
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, said in its annual report for 2016 that the group has been recruiting militants in the country.
According to the report, the PKK “continues to be of particular relevance to Germany’s internal security because of its violent actions committed in particular by young adherents.”
The report featured the PKK’s actions after the July 15, 2016, failed coup attempt, widely believed to have been masterminded by the followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
“Initially, the PKK in Germany reacted to the failed coup in Turkey in a rather restrained way, considering it as a primarily ‘inner-Turkish’ conflict that it was not going to participate in. The PKK was rather concerned about the physical condition and security of its jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan,” the report said.
According to the BfV, the PKK “gained reputation” after the war in Syria.
“The PKK’s armed struggle and several terrorist attacks in Turkey, its at least indifferent attitude as regards militancy and violence in Europe, in particular its continuous recruitment activities for the militants, as well as its intransparent decision-making processes and lack of pluralism disappear from view, though,” the report said, adding that the PKK calls for the ban imposed on its activities in Germany to be lifted.
“The organization wants to free itself from the stigma of being a banned organization, and in doing so, meets support from left-wing extremist spectrum,” it added.
The report said the PKK is “the largest extremist organization of foreigners in Germany” and that the security operations between militants and the security forces in Turkey “will probably continue to affect the security situation in Germany.”
Regarding PKK activities in Europe, the report said the group changed its name several times over the past years “with the intention of giving the outward impression of political and democratic re-orientation and getting rid of the stigma of being a terrorist organization.”
“The PKK structures in Europe, and thus in Germany, are neither independently organized associations nor are their objectives developed independently from their foreign mother organization PKK. Though largely peaceful events prevail in Europe, violence remains an option within the PKK ideology. This is seen in its recruitment of militants in Germany,” the report said.
According to the intelligence agency, the PKK “continues to be able to and prepared, if necessary, to use violence in Germany at least in isolated cases or to tolerate acts of violence carried out by its young adherents.”