‘Hidden Threat’ takes a European crew across Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Denmark to investigate the infrastructure of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Europe.

The upcoming TRT World production, ‘Hidden Threat’ takes a European crew across Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Denmark to investigate the infrastructure of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Europe.

The documentary shows that the PKK has strong links to organised crime and has run a vast criminal network across Europe since the 1990s. The terrorist group raises millions of dollars in funds, often through extortion. But there is also strong evidence of the PKK orchestrating a network of human and drugs trafficking, as well as training camps in the heart of Europe. 

The six-month probe into the PKK’s links to organised crime reveals hundreds of official reports and cables, supported by the testimonies of intelligence officers, witnesses and drug dealers.

  • A study commissioned by the European Parliament on the relation between crime and terror in the European Union, highlights the PKK as a notable case-in-point for the link between terrorism and organised crime, 
  • Since the 1990s, the PKK has built an intricate criminal syndicate across Europe,
  • Intelligence reports from at least four EU states confirm that the PKK runs training camps in Europe, 
  • One country that has reported the existence of PKK training camps inside its borders to EUROPOL (European Law Enforcement Body), is Switzerland. Swiss police made its latest discovery of a PKK camp in the second half of 2016, 
  • The Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s office filed accusations against 36 PKK members for extortion, trafficking drugs and kidnapping children to be trained in ideological camps in Europe, and then sent to Syria, Iraq and Turkey,
  • According to another study published by the European Parliament, the PKK is deeply involved in human and drugs trafficking and has strong links to Balkan mafias, 
  • The same study confirms that the PKK earns around 500 million euros per year just from drugs,
  • Also featured in this documentary is a revelation by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency that the PKK uses German territory to recruit teenagers to be sent to the frontline in Syria and Iraq; and that PKK units in Germany support terrorist units inside Turkey with money and fighters,  
  • A Swiss intelligence expert and founder of Switzerland’s counter terrorism unit, Jean Paul Rouiller reveals that the PKK has a structure in Europe as professional and effective as those of groups like Daesh and Al Qaeda. He also says the PKK has enough power to turn Europe into a bloodbath.  

The work on the documentary began when a study commissioned by the European Parliament reached a European filmmaker’s team.  Taking that study as a starting point, the team gained access to hundreds of pages of security and intelligence reports, revealing how the PKK has been able to build a highly sophisticated criminal syndicate in Europe, despite being listed as a terror group by both the US and EU. 

Security reports from EUROPOL, Swiss, German and Belgian intelligence agencies indicate that extortion, bribery, robbery, drugs and human trafficking are just some of the criminal activities the PKK is involved in. It uses profits from these activities to finance its terror campaigns in Syria, Iraq and Turkey. 

From Germany alone, the PKK raises more than 13 million euros a year, mostly through extortion. The group taxes Kurdish families and businessmen, threatening their families in Europe and Turkey. 

Yet, the PKK is least known to Europeans. That is mostly because the group considers Europe a safe haven, and refrains from committing terror attacks that would disrupt its criminal activities. 

While many governments, politicians and law enforcement bodies turn a blind eye on the PKK, British journalist and expert in financial crime, Nick Kochan says Europeans are also paying a price. A growing number of people are addicted to the PKK’s cheap heroin. The PKK traffics heroin into Europe from Afghanistan via Turkey, as well as the Balkans, through its relations with organised crime syndicates on the peninsula.   

For the European production team, it was alarming to find out how an EU-listed terror group could build such a vast and professional criminal network on European soil. The investigation made it clear that the PKK is not just Turkey’s problem but a transnational threat.

At the beginning of the production, it was quite clear that this could be a never-ending research of clues linking the PKK to crimes across entire Europe. Yet, what was more surprising was to find out that European governments and security bodies have taken no action against the group, despite having known about its activities since the 1990s, as well its training camps. 

The camps are mostly set up in remote camping sites, where recruits, mostly young, are brainwashed. They are trained in the history of the organisation and the life and ideology of its leader; and in some cases, as the Swiss police found out in 2016, in guerrilla warfare. The recruits, who a Swiss intelligence officer says are mostly European by birth, are later sent to PKK military camps in Syria and Iraq to fight on the frontline. 

During the pre-production process, it was clear that the most difficult part would be to find officials and experts willing to talk about the PKK’s criminal network in Europe; from fear of backlash among hundreds of PKK members across the continent.

Beyond the power of the PKK to harm the internal security of the EU member states, its youth wings across Europe are also dangerous, with links to anarchist and radical leftist organisations that are part of the violent ANTIFA movement. 

The series also takes a look at how Europe has allied with PKK-affiliated groups in Syria and Iraq; and how this is funded by the European taxpayer. A vast majority of them ignore the PKK terror campaigns that have killed tens of thousands of people in Turkey and know nothing about the silent war the PKK is carrying out across Europe, hand in hand with organised crime. 

Hidden Threat is a must see investigative documentary that reveals how a terrorist organisation uses Europe to finance its campaigns and recruit fighters to kill in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. 

TRT World takes the viewer on a journey across six European countries to explore the PKK’s two main ingredients: money and human capital. 

The first episode of Hidden Threat will premiere on TRT World on Wednesday, February 21st, with the second episode due to air on February 28th at 20:30 GMT/ 23:30 IST/15:30 WASHINGTON DC.

About TRT World

TRT World, Turkey’s first English broadcasting international news platform is launched in 2015 and headquartered in Istanbul, with four newsrooms and an extensive global bureau network covering major regions and hot spots. Strategically designed to maximize its global reach, it is broadly available in all major English-speaking territories and can be accessed via traditional media, including free-to-air, cable and satellite, and other digital platforms, including mobiles, desktops and social media. A distinctive voice to the global news landscape, this is TRT World.


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Phone: +90 212 326 30 00
Contact: marcom@trtworld.com