On February 4th, the United States Department of the Treasury designated the so-called Free Life Party of Kurdistan, or PJAK, as a terrorist organization controlled by the terrorist group, Kongra-Gel, also known as the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK.
"With today's action, we are exposing PJAK's terrorist ties to the Kongra-Gel and supporting Turkey's efforts to protect its citizens from attack," said Stuart Levy, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
For more than 20 years, Kongra-Gel or PKK, has been involved in targeting Turkish government security forces, local Turkish officials, and villagers who oppose their extremist activities in Turkey. Turkish authorities have confirmed or suspect that Kongra-Gel is also responsible for dozens of bombings since 2004 in western Turkey.
The Kongra-Gel leadership authorized certain Iranian-Kurdish Kongra-Gel members to create a splinter group that would portray itself as independent from but allied with Kongra-Gel. PJAK was created to appeal to Iranian Kurds.
Kongra-Gel formally institutionalized PJAK in 2004 and selected 5 Kongra-Gel members to serve as PJAK leaders, including Hajji Ahmadi, a Kongra-Gel affiliate who became PJAK's General Secretary. Kongra-Gel leaders also selected the members of PJAK's 40-person central committee. Although certain PJAK members objected to the Kongra-Gel selecting their leaders, the Kongra-Gel advised PJAK that it had no choice but to accept the dictates of the Kongra-Gel leadership.
As of April 2008, Kongra-Gel's handpicked leaders controlled PJAK and allocated personnel to the group. Separately, PJAK members have carried out their activities in accordance with orders received from Kongra-Gel senior leaders.
In one instance, PJAK's armed wing, the East Kurdistan Defense Forces, had been acting independently in Iran. Kogra-Gel senior leaders immediately intervened, however, and recalled the responsible PJAK officials to northern Iraq.
Under Executive Order 13224, any assets PJAK has under United States jurisdiction are frozen, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in any transactions with PJAK.
The United State is committed to shutting down the financial networks that support terrorism and to working with its international partners in bringing terrorists to justice.