COUNTER-TERROR police are leading a major investigation into fears a Kurdish terror group is being financed from Edinburgh.

Scottish detectives are probing alleged “fundraising for a proscribed organisation” and wider criminality by a number of unnamed individuals across the capital.

Police have not named the organisation concerned but The Herald understands it is the PKK, the rebels fighting for a Kurdish homeland in Turkey.

Senior officers have stressed that they do not believe there was ever any danger of terrorist action in Scotland.

BACKGROUND: Guerrilla force wages war on Turkey in bid for homeland

The left-wing PKK – sometimes known in English as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party – has been waging an armed struggle against the Turkish Government on and off for 30 years.

The group remains a proscribed terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom – despite similar bans being lifted in other countries – and it continues to carry out violent attacks.

MORE BACKGROUND: Foreign editor David Pratt on PKK

Strictly secular, the PKK and its aims enjoy some support among thousands of exiled Turkish Kurds, including those in Scotland, as the current Turkish regime steps up what independent experts refer to as oppression at home.

Only this week the group carried out a terror attack in the Turkish port of Izmir, using a car bomb to kill a police officer and court worker and injuring five other people, according to Turkish sources.

Previous PKK clashes with TurksHeraldScotland: Cizre, left, was the scene of most of the clashes between members of the PKK and the Turkish military

Suspected PKK fighters also shot at police, who later seized guns and a rocket launcher.

DEBATE: The case for an against Turkey

The major Edinburgh police inquiry, which has been under way for months, also focused on non-terror-related allegations such as fraud and immigration offences.

Officers, working with tax and duty investigators from HMRC and other UK law enforcement agencies, last year raided an unspecified number of premises.

In a formal written briefing, Police Scotland said its elite Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Unit was leading what it described as a “multi-agency investigation into individuals assessed to be fundraising for a proscribed terrorist organisation”. The force, in a typically stilted communication with its own watchdog, the Scottish Police Authority, added: “Executive action in collaboration with several partnership agencies was conducted in the East of Scotland within the reporting period.

“Locations were searched under the Customs and Excise Management Act, Common Law Fraud and the Terrorism Act.

“Subsequent investigation identified additional Immigration act offences, with a significant sum of money potentially eligible for Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation.

“This operation has provided investigative opportunities to allow continued collaboration with a Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, Trading Standards and Home Office Immigration Enforcement.”

HeraldScotland: Police Scotland said officers in Edinburgh went to Liberton High School after a wall in the building collapsed

Police Scotland was unable to give details beyond its briefing to the Scottish Police Authority. The investigation has now been passed on to the Crown Office.

Prosecutors will now decide whether to charge the individuals identified by the police, none of whom have been named.

The force’s counter-terrorism officers, based at the crime campus at Gartcosh, have long developed close working relationships with other law enforcement agencies including those with a UK-wide remit.

The force’s strategy of co-operation was recently highlighted as best practice in a major report on how to improve terror policing across Europe.

Detective Chief Superintendent Gerry McLean, Head of Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Unit for Police Scotland, said: “As part of a police investigation along with partner agencies, we executed a number of search warrants in relation to financial investigation and suspected fraud.

“Matters have now been reported to the Procurator Fiscal, and as such it would be inappropriate comment further at this time.

“I would like to reassure the public that there was no danger to them at any time.”

People accused of fundraising for terrorism are subject to the same laws as those who plot or carry out such offences.

In one of Scotland’s highest security court cases ever, in 2012 an Algerian man, Nasserdine Menni, was convicted of financing a suicide bomber who blew himself up in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2010.

Menni had been living as an asylum seeker in a Glasgow housing association flat under an assumed name.

The PKK is just one of a whole “alphabet soup” of Kurdish political, paramilitary and terrorist groups spread across the Middle East.

Kurdish fighters in Syria the are currently fighting Islamic State and the Syrian government. They’re called the YPG or Peoples Protection Units and have had to watch their backs for hostile actions from the Turks.

Kurds, in Iraq, meanwhile, are also fighting Islamic State but have better relations with Turkey. These fighters, usually called Peshmerga, represent the nearest thing there is to a Kurdish statelet, the KRG or Kurdistan regional government of northern Iraq.

THE HERALD ARCHIVE: How The Herald's Alistair Bell 23 years ago reported EU-wide crackdown on PKK

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