PKK leader suspects plot behind Paris murders

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Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) told Turkish security officials that he suspected the Paris killings of the 3 of his organizations militants might be a ‘message’ from those who did not want him to continue his dialogue with the Turkish government for a political solution to Kurdish problem, Turkish official sources told Hürriyet Daily News. Sources who asked not to be named said Öcalan did not elaborate who might have sent the message by killing three female members of the PKK in Europe, one of them, Sakine Cansız being a founder of the organization together with Öcalan.

The Turkish government, on the other hand, is not sure yet whether the Jan. 9 killings in the Kurdistan Cultural Center in Paris were an ordinary crime or motivated by political or other reasons. They say Turkey is doing its part in cooperation with French security officials, including a detailed investigation on Turkey links of the only suspect of the case so far, Ömer Güney, a PKK sympathizer who was arrested on Jan. 21 by Paris prosecutor with suspects of being involved in the murder.

One ranking French source speaking to HDN on condition of anonymity said that France wanted to solve the case as soon as possible in order not to be at the center of attention anymore. According to same source, the Paris police have been carrying out a detailed investigation, which includes watching of a total of 3600 hours of security camera recordings to find out the killer, or killers and if there is anyone behind the murders. Güney, has not confessed that he has killed and so far it was not possible to prove that he was and the only killer, French source said.

According to the French analysis, there are three main scenarios to answer the motivation of murders. The most possible scenario is a conflict regarding the financial traffic within the PKK. The organization has an estimated budget more than 10 billion Euros a year in Europe only, from donations of Kurdish origin guest workers, extortion money and money from drug smuggling, according to Turkish police and US Treasury and Cansız had a role in that.

The second probable scenario according to French authorities is jealousy. Allegedly, Güney had fallen in love with a woman working for the PKK controlled Roj TV, broadcasting from Europe. That woman was not in good terms with Cansız.

The third scenario, which is the least possible one according to French (and also Turkish) authorities is the possibility of a country’s secret service being behind the murders. France had dropped out the possibility of a Turkish secret service link in the early days of the investigation. But the possibility of a crime organization or a politically motivated organization who might want to plot an agent inside the PKK is a possibility that is under investigation.

The Yeni Özgür Politika newspaper, printed in Europe and controlled by the PKK pointed out on Jan. 28, a day before the murder, that a Turkish citizen named Adnan Gürbüz who had been allegedly involved in drugs and human trafficking in Europe, was in Paris and left a day after the murder to Britain might worth looking into. Gürbüz is from Güney’s hometown in Turkey and of the same Turkish nationalist political background; Güney had the same background in younger years, ironically.

One Turkish ranking security official told HDN that Ankara did not think there was any secret service behind the murders, mainly because the murders were committed ‘too immaturely and Güney profiled too imbalanced and unstable typology’ for any serious secret service to use. But the involvement of a crime organization, since too much money is involved, is a serious matter of investigation, the source said.

In that framework, possible links with another murder is under Ankara’s attention. The killing of a Kurdish origin Russian mafia leader, Aslan Usyanov in Moscow on Jan. 16 only a week after the Paris killings. The Russian press had reported earlier that he was among chief weapon suppliers of the PKK and that the Turkish intelligence has more information as he was among the chief financers of the organization. Research on that possible link has not come to an end yet, according to officials.

If there was a political plot to sabotage the talks between the PKK leader and the Turkish government, then it failed already. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) is also involved in the Kurdish problem talks and is waiting for a permission from the government to go to the island-prison of İmralı to talk to Öcalan once again.

This article was published in the Hurriyet Daily News on Jan. 31, 2013.

Murat Yetkin is the current editor-in-chief of Hurriyet Daily News and a columnist for Radikal, a Turkish publication. He is a political commentator on Turkish and Middle Eastern affairs and has previously worked for BBC World Service and AFP. He can be found on Twitter: @MuratYetkin2.

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