Logistics: Kurdish Rebels Meet the Payroll

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March 15,2008: Turkey announced that they believe the Kurdish separatist organization, the PKK, has an income of over $600 million a year, with half of that coming from drug smuggling and sales. That estimate is about eight times previous ones. This assertion will generate a debate over which numbers are true. But one there is one thing most everyone will agree on. All armies need to be supplied. That goes for armies of irregulars or terrorists as well. People have to eat, need a place to live, and often have families to support. Warlords get that way because they have found some way to make enough money to support his gunmen. The PKK supports some 3,000 fighters, who are based in northern Iraq, and operate in southeastern Turkey.

The proliferation of laptop computers has led to all manner of irregular and criminal organizations keeping records on these computers. The computers get captured, and police now have a better idea of what the finances of these organizations are. Basically, people got to be fed, paid and supplied with the tools of their trade (weapons, transport, whatever).

The PKK may indeed lay hands on over $600 million a year. And a lot of that may be payments for drugs (to be smuggled and later sold), as well as money for all manner of middlemen. And then there are bribes for police, soldiers and civil servants. The needs are immense, and there's never enough cash to go around. Criminal enterprises are a common source of funds for rebel organizations. As law enforcement goes after more of these rebel support activities, they are finding that the extent of these criminal operations are surprisingly large. There are far more PKK members out there raising money and getting supplies to the gunmen, just like a traditional army.

 


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