The Interior Ministry updated the list of most wanted terrorists as former Democratic Union Party (PYD) Co-Chair Salih Muslim and Mihraç Ural, known to have close links to Syrian leader Bashar Assad's regime and be the leader of a pro-regime militia group, are among the names on the list.
The number of terrorists sought in Turkey rose to 880, with 230 new names categorized as high-risk terrorist targets, including former PYD leader Muslim and prominent pro-Assad figure Ural. Furthermore, Fehriye Erdal, a member of the terrorist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), is on the new list.
Unlike other leaders of PYD's parent organization PKK, which has waged a bloody terror campaign against Turkey since 1978, Muslim's inclusion into the terror list is relatively new. PKK's Syrian offshoot PYD was founded in 2003, at a time when PKK activities in Turkey were reduced to a minimum with its leader Abdullah Öcalan captured. PYD was ineffective in Syria due to tight regime control, but when the civil war broke out in 2011, it became major player in predominantly-Kurdish northeast Syria.
As the reconciliation with the PKK was ongoing between 2012 and 2015, Turkish government tried to persuade PYD to drop its hostile attitude towards Turkey, open cooperation channels and end its cooperation with the Assad regime. As PKK unilaterally resumed armed attacks in July 2015, the PYD and its armed wing People's Protection Units (YPG) provided PKK with militants, explosives, arms and ammunition. Simultaneous armed revolts broke out in almost all towns and cities bordering Syria, whereas terrorists trained in northern Syria staged suicide attacks in Turkish cities.
Upon these developments, arrest warrants and subsequent red notices were issued for Muslim and 47 other PKK high-rank figures in Nov. 2016.
With the new list, Muslim has a TL 4-million ($1.05-million) bounty on his head.
Terrorists have been categorized into different color groups – red, blue, green and gray – depending on the level of threat they pose for the country's national security. Accordingly, U.S. based Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) leader Fetullah Gülen, PKK senior figures Cemil Bayık, Murat Karayılan and Duran Kalkan and Daesh-linked İlhami Balı are in the red category.
The new update has 44 new figures on the red list, 26 on the blue list, 34 on the green list, 37 on the orange and 89 on the gray lists.
Ural recently led to a diplomatic issue between Turkey and Russia as he appeared at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi in late January. Ural was a top militant in the People's Liberation Party-Front (THKP-C), a predecessor to the Revolutionary Peoples' Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the U.S. Ural was also the alleged mastermind of the 2013 car bombings in the Reyhanlı district of the southern province of Hatay that left 52 people dead.
Other terrorists on the list: Fehriye Erdal (hired as a member of the maintenance staff by Sabancı Holding) helped DHKP-C militants İsmail Akkol and Mustafa Duyar enter Sabancı Towers in Istanbul to assassinate Özdemir Sabancı, ToyotaSA General Manager Haluk Görgün and secretary Nilgün Hasefe. She was first captured by Belgian authorities with a fake passport when her flat caught on fire in 1999 and was tried in court. After serving a year in prison, Erdal was put under house arrest but fled in 2006. She has been at large for a long time.
So far, 163 names on the most-wanted-terrorists list have been killed. After the practice was implemented some two-and-a-half years ago, two names from the red list, 13 from the blue, 21 from the green, 15 from the orange and 112 from the grey list were killed in operations. Accordingly, those who help security forces capture or neutralize terrorists on the list are rewarded, with TL 12.5 million distributed so far.
Meanwhile, five PKK terrorists surrendered to Turkish security forces in southeastern provinces, according to the Turkish General Staff yesterday. In a statement, the military said four terrorists surrendered in Şırnak's Silopi district after they fled a PKK camp in northern Iraq, and one more terrorist surrendered in Nusaybin district in Mardin over the weekend.