Kurdistan Freedom Falcons
|Kurdistan Freedom Falcons
Teyrênbazê Azadiya Kurdistan, (TAK)
|Participant in Kurdish–Turkish conflict|
Flag of the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK)
|Active||July 29, 2004-present|
|Leaders||Bahoz Erdal (alleged)|
|Headquarters||Qandil, Iraqi Kurdistan|
|Area of operations||Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan|
|Strength||A few dozen active members (2006)|
|Originated as||PKK (claimed)|
|Battles and wars||Kurdish–Turkish conflict|
The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (Kurdish: Teyrênbazê Azadiya Kurdistan, TAK), also known as the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks, is a militant group that has committed attacks throughout Turkey, operating in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq with a goal of securing Kurdish secession from Turkey. 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. Some Turkish security analysts have alleged that Bahoz Erdal may be the leader of the TAK.
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 civilians.
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.
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. 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 10, 2005.
- 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.
This type of attack against a tourist target is perhaps the signature tactic of TAK. The group uses terrorism to discourage tourism in Turkey by attacking targets such as hotels and ATMs. 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.
- 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.
- In March, one person was killed and thirteen injured when 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. The groups website states the rash of attacks are revenge for the imprisonment of Abdullah Ocalan, the figurehead for the armed Kurdish nationalist movement.
- 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. The bombing is believed to be linked to the recent attacks by TAK, however they have not claimed responsibility.
- In June 2010, they blew up a military bus in Istanbul, killing four people including 3 soldiers and a 17-year-old girl. This was received by observers as a "resumption of guerrilla warfare" which "brings to a final end an unofficial truce between the PKK and the government, which last year launched an initiative giving Kurds greater civil rights."
- On October 31, 2010, a suicide bomber detonated a bomb on Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, killing the perpetrator and resulting in 32 injuries, 15 of whom were police officers. The bombing is believed to be linked to TAK, however they have not claimed responsibility.
- September 20, 2011 3 people died and 34 people were injured in a bomb attack in Ankara. Kurdistan Freedom Falcons claimed the attack.
Designation as a Terrorist Organisation
The U.S. government designated TAK a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" organization on January 10, 2008. 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 and 45 international terrorist organizations in the list of proscribed terrorist groups of the UK Home Office.
However the organization is not listed among the 12 active terrorist organization in Turkey according to Counter-Terrorism and Operations Department of Directorate General for Security (Turkish police), because Turkey views the group as part of the PKK. This is despite the fact that TAK openly criticizes and strongly disagrees publically with their increasingly restrained tactics.
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