terça-feira, 11 de dezembro de 2007

Expert: PKK to target cities

Foreign counter-terrorism experts are warning that this year the PKK may opt for terrorist attacks in Turkish urban areas instead of remaining dormant in the Iraqi Kurdish mountains in the winter months.

Frank Hyland, a counter-terrorism expert warned on Dec.9 that the PKK is now contemplating creating an alternative battleground targeting major cities for their terrorist actions during the winter.

Hyland writing in Counter-Terrorism Blog says scattered clashes persist, the snows have come to the passes in the Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq, effectively putting a stop to most, if not all activity by Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) militants attacking Turkey from northern Iraq.

He warns however, that this year Turkish citizens should not feel as secure that the overall conflict has ebbed as usual simply because Southeast Turkey has “cooled off” militarily along with the air temperatures.

He says it is in and around Turkey’s larger cities, including those to the west, that it is demonstrably easy for the PKK to continue to carry out attacks.

Experts warn that Kurds now populate slum areas near virtually all of Turkey’s large cities in the west.

Jamestown Foundation counter-terrorism expert, Gareth Jenkins, pointed out in an October 10 article (www.jamestown.org) that bombings in Izmir and Istanbul on October 2 and 7 appear to have been the work of the PKK. Placed in the context of approximately a dozen other such attacks since February 2006 known or suspected to have been conducted by the PKK, it is clear that two campaigns have been underway.

Experts say the weather-imposed restrictions on PKK activities in the Turkish-Iraqi border area, of course, do not hold in the case of the concurrent urban attacks.

Hyland says from an attack-management standpoint, the PKK leadership (as is the case with numerous other terrorist groups) has a number of options, both doctrinal and technological. "Whether pinpointing specific targets or broader categories of targets, PKK cells can be given the autonomy to choose the timing, depending on local conditions. The presence of a Turkish regional or national leader at a pre-chosen target location, for example, would argue for conducting the attack on the same date. The wide availability of television and Internet access provides the PKK leadership with the means to choose both a target and a specific date and even time for an attack.

Alternatively, a “Go” order can be issued via cell phone.:

Hyland says that it can be recalled that just three months ago on the anniversary of 9/11, Turkish police authorities thwarted an attack in Ankara in which cell phones would have played a part. A van discovered in an Ankara parking lot and containing hundreds of pounds of explosives had cell phones wired to the device as remote-detonation “triggers.”

Hyland said one of the phones had been used previously to call the Southeastern Turkish city of Sirnak. The Sirnak phone, in turn, was known to have been in contact with one of the top leaders of the PKK, demonstrating that the “path” of the phone calls, reversed, could just as easily deliver the “Go” order.

Hyland points out that the trial of the two PKK militants extradited to Turkey from Germany could trigger such an attack. The two, Mehmet Iltas and Mehmet Kizilay, are among approximately 175 PKK members being sought by Turkey. Hyland says it is no stretch of the imagination to expect that a Turkish trial and its associated publicity, accessed via the Internet in Iraq’s Qandil Mountains, will be followed by at least one cell phone call to a major metropolitan area in Turkey.

Hyland is a highly regarded former CIA and National Security Agency counter-terrorism expert who has served with the CIA and National Security Agency for 25 years. He is currently teaching at the American Military Intelligence Academy on terrorism.

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