ISSN 2792-0518 (Print)
ISSN 2822-2334 (Online)

Öcalan Cultic Leadership in PKK Terrorist Organization

30.06.2022 | Merve ÖNENLİ GÜVEN


As the ideology of the terrorist organizations, leadership characteristics of them also maintain their unique aspects. Therefore, the typology of the leadership qualities of the terrorist organizations presents crucial data for the understanding of the anatomy and operational aspects of a terrorist organization. One of the distinctive aspects of the PKK depends on its hierarchical organizational structure in which there is the unconditional commitment to the leader. Additionally, PKK’s organizational structure is constructed on an obedience culture. Based on these, Abdullah Öcalan has an important place on the structural and organizational characteristics of the PKK. Both its foundation and continuity, the leadership aspects of Öcalan have similarities with the cultic organizations. The organizational structure of the PKK is maintained on the cult of Öcalan. Based on this cultic leadership, Kurdish identity is transformed into a legitimizing tool in the use of violence for the establishment of an alternative order understanding. The new constructed Kurdish identity in the PKK does not represent the Kurdish people, it carries a psycho-politic characteristic. In this study, the leadership typology of the PKK is analyzed. The main premise in this study is PKK has a cultic organizational characteristic based on the subjectivity of Öcalan.

Key Words

Önenli Güven, M. (2022). Öcalan Cultic Leadership in PKK Terrorist Organization. Journal of Terrorism and Radicalization Studies, 1(2), pp.254-277, DOI: