A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

BAAD - Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - 2012


Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is a Kurdish military and political organization formed in Turkey in 1974.[1] The group first engaged in violent activities in 1984.[2] PKK’s initial goal was the creation of an independent Kurdish state.[3] Currently the group advocates for the autonomy and the rights of the Kurdish people in Turkey and in other Kurdish inhabited states in the region.[4]

The PKK has engaged in various attacks against the Turkish government, including bombings and kidnappings, selecting targets both inside Turkey and around Europe.[5] The group is also known to target civilians who do not cooperate with or assist them and to kidnap tourists.[6] The group moved from using predominately rural insurgency tactics to more urban based terrorism in the 1990s. [7] The PKK has an armed wing called the People’s Defense Force as well as a special urban terrorism wing called the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), which in 2005 initiated the use of suicide attacks against tourism related targets.[8]

Abdullah Ocalan, the group’s founder and leader, was captured in 1999 and at present remains imprisoned.[9] There have been several cease-fire agreements between the PKK and the Turkish government throughout the years. The first began in 1999 and lasted until 2004.[10] During this time the PKK took steps to try and change its image, part of which included several name changes that finally resulted in the selection of its current name. [11] The Turkish government refused to negotiate however. The attempt at rebranding as a political entity failed, and the group decided to return to violent tactics.[12] The latest cease-fire accord between the group and the Turkish government began in March 2013.[13] However, the group has committed several acts of violence since this date.[14] View full narrative

Quick Facts for 2012


533 (Total of 1998 through 2012)

Leftist, Ethnic, Separatist

Approximately 4,000-5,000

Territorial Control:
Controls Territory (1)

Funding through Drug Trafficking:

Sorry, but there are no organizational details available for this group at this time.


Primary Ideology

  • Ag = Anti-Globalization
  • An = Anarchist
  • En = Ethnic
  • Ev = Environmental
  • Le = Leftist
  • Re = Religious
  • Ri = Rightist
  • Se = Separatist
  • Su = Supremacist
  • Vi = Vigilante


  •  Ally
  •  Suspected Ally
  •  Rival
  •  Violence
  •  Mixed Relations


  •  Blue 0 - 1479 fatalities
  •  Green 1479 - 2958 fatalities
  •  Yellow 2958 - 4437 fatalities
  •  Orange 4437 - 5916 fatalities
  •  Red 5916 - 7396 fatalities

Lethality is calculated as the total number of fatalities from 1998-2012.


Icon sizes depict approximate relative sizes of the organizations.

  • Smallest 0 - 10 members
  •   11 - 100 members
  •   101 - 1000 members
  •   1001 - 10000 members
  • Largest > 10000 members

Other Notes

Icons with no color coding or ideology icon have no detailed data at this time, and are provided as relationship information only.