Force Multipliers

Since the 911 attacks in the United States, the international community has stepped up efforts to combat terrorism. The focus has been on military strikes as evidenced by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, freezing of financial assets and enactment of laws that deny terrorists access to weapons of mass destruction. Easy transfer of technology, economic interdependence among nations, religious ideals and the vibrant media as a prime source of giving information has given terrorists strategic advantages to further their agenda. The paper will try to analyze the PKK of Turkey which is classified as a terrorist organization and its use of the force multipliers.

In an increasingly global village, interests are getting more individualistic by the day. Numerous groups have sprung up in every part of the world to pursue various political objectives all in the name of liberation of their people. What makes them controversial are the means which they have chosen to achieve their goals. Terrorism has become an important tool for hardline and sometimes ideologically extremist groups to attain their goals. Use of violence is now in line with the operations of different groups who have sought to force institutions like governments to give in to their demands.

There is no universally accepted definition of terrorism. However different scholars and law enforcement organizations have come up with definitions that have sought to describe the activities surrounding terrorism. A simple definition of terrorism as quoted in White (2009, p, 10) can be the use of force to achieve political objectives by targeting innocent people (Walter Laqueur, 1987, 1999). According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, as quoted from the Council of Foreign Relations, terrorism is the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives. (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).  Further, the FBI classifies terrorism as international or domestic depending on the activities, bases of operation and the objectives of the group. Domestic terrorism therefore is defined by the FBI as activities that involve acts which are dangerous to human life and are in violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population to influence the policy of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States. 18 U.S.C.  2331(5). The reverse applies to international terrorism.

The United States is known for its long history of political violence but only few instances have been characterized as domestic terrorism (White, 2009, p 347). Asia and Eastern Europe have been plagued by situations where home grown terrorist groups operate within their territorial borders unleashing domestic terror on civilian and government targets. Turkey for instance has been battling the problem of terrorism with the PKK for decades.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
Though Turkey is currently experiencing waves of religious terrorism, the major terrorism problem for the last three decades has been coming from the Kurds (White, 2009, p, 333). The group changed its name in 2002 to Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy as a way of transforming its identity. The group has been using unlawful force against civilians and government installations in Iraq and Turkey in pursuit of autonomy. The group operates in Europe and their primary target is the Turkish government, rival Kurds and Europeans. Further more, it employs some of the crude methods like murdering whole villages comparable only to the Peruvian Maoists rebels (White, 2009, p 333). Their objective is to establish a Marxist State which clearly portrays their ideological beliefs.

Terrorist organizations like the PKK normally start as guerilla groups who use armed struggle against establishments they regard illegitimate due to reasons like colonialism or oppression. Conflict and war is the pillar of their struggles to freedom. The PKK traces roots to 1974 when it was formed to fight for the independence of the Kurdistan region (Criss, 1995) as quoted in White (2009, p, 333). The group however has been guided from the beginning by the Marxist ideologies under which they wanted to establish the Kurdistan state.

Later, ideology, nationalism and ethnicity dominated the terrorist group cause. In the 1990s the PKK increasingly employed the use of language nationalism in pursuing its cause.

In most cases religion took over in later stages like the present day Islamic Jihadist groups. In a case that demonstrates its evolution, the PKK has used the verbiage of religion since 1995 (White, 2009, p 333). Like every terrorist organization, the PKK draws its strength from all or a couple of multipliers which motivate them to sustain their campaign.

PKK Force Multipliers
Force multipliers enhance the destructive power of terrorists (White, 2009, p 100). Technology, transnational forces, religion and the media comprise the force multipliers greatly relied on by terrorists. The most prized piece of technology that terrorists have acquired is the bomb. They always strike to cause destruction and send a message. When technology is so great many analysts believe it is used as a weapon by terrorists. The PKK has not displayed any aggressive adaptation to technology but did apply limited suicide bombings which were mostly carried out by women.

The media benefits both the legitimate authorities and the terrorist organizations. The government basks in the glory of trying to protect citizens while at the same time portraying the terror groups as savages. On the other hand the terror groups have enough exposure that renders their activities to be treated as serious and important. When the attacks are reported over and over the striking power of terrorists is magnified (White, 209, p 105). The PKK has dominated the international media since the 1970s which has given impetus to its activities. It has emboldened them and at times they have used the media against Turkey in its quest to join the European Union. Though Turkey and some international media organizations tried to give PKK activities a blackout, some media houses especially in Greece and Western Europe were sympathetic to their cause and gave them enough coverage. The group even had its own television channel the ROJ broadcasting in Denmark (Centre of Excellence Defense against Terrorism, 2007 p, 42).

Religion has always encouraged followers to sacrifice their lives for the good of their cause. In Jihadist groups, followers are encouraged to carry out suicide attacks on the enemy to reinforce their message. The PKK did use bombing techniques that were tied to extremists in the Islamic religion.  Ocalan, the groups leader encouraged limited suicide bombing (Marcus, 2007, p 243). The suicide attacks were carried out by women and Ocalan did not rely on them because he feared portrayal of their terror group being weakened and using desperate measures.

The world today has become so interconnected and terrorists have found a good platform to further their agenda. Transnational targets like tourist resorts have become popular with terrorist. With such targets, they are likely to increase and broaden their reach to their enemies. Besides, transnational economic forces have made it easier for terrorists to exchange information, plan and execute attacks more easily. The worst case scenario includes terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons or materials and the threat is real (Graham, 2008, p, 43). The PKK has targeted commercial installations like the 1991 setting fire of a shopping mall in Istanbul (CEDAT, 2007 p, 41).

Terrorists and their organizations are diverse, secretive and complicated. They are defined differently according to their activities and objectives. The PKK has waged a war of independence for close to four decades now. However, their full access to the force multipliers has been limited somehow. They nonetheless used optimally what they have at their disposal to advance their cause. Dynamism associated with the development of terror organizations complicates authorities efforts to combat them. That is why a collective international effort is needed to combat their activities.


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