On the night of 15 July 2016, the coup attempt of the Fetullahist Terrorist Organisation (FETO) was stopped by the bravery of the people of Turkey and their unwavering dedication to democracy. It was a night of terror under the wrath of helicopter gunships, tanks and F-16 jets. The bombing of the Turkish Parliament, the Presidential Complex and the police headquarters will go down as firsts in history.
Under the leadership of H.E. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the Republic of Turkey, the Turkish nation displayed heroic solidarity to defend their democratically elected constitutional government, and shielded it with their bodies to repel the attempted coup. Sadly, 251 Turkish citizens lost their lives and more than 2,000 were wounded.
The ongoing and finalised investigations, prosecutions and trials yielded that Fetullah Gülen is the administrator and ringleader of the FETO armed cult organisation, and that he gave the order to stage the coup. We have an extensive collection of factual evidence to that end, including video footage, digital materials gathered at Akıncı Air Base (the centre of operations for the coup-plotters), satellite communications among plotters, confessions of FETO members who actively participated in the coup attempt, and the statements of those Turkish officers who resisted the coup attempt.
To give a crucial evidence, the then Chief of General Staff and current Minister of National Defence, General Hulusi Akar, was held hostage by the plotters during the coup attempt at Akıncı Air Base. Officers – proved to be FETO members leading the coup – urged him to speak directly to Fetullah Gülen, hoping to persuade him to join them.
To judge the actions of Fetullah Gülen and the FETO terrorist organisation only with what transpired on July 15th would be a mistake. The crimes committed on the night of July 15th were just the tip of the iceberg.
It all started under the guise of a charitable education effort back in the 1970s. Fetullah Gülen and his followers disguised themselves as a benign education movement, when they started the campaign of establishing schools in Turkey and later around the world.
We now understand that this was the first step of an infiltration campaign, whereby kids and their parents were recruited with the seemingly innocent promise of a better education and a good job. These kids were put through school with academic and financial help, and mainly a heavy hand in indoctrination. They were turned into unquestioning foot-soldiers of Fetullah Gülen – who claims to be the ‘Chosen One’ and is believed to be a ‘Messiah’ by his followers.
In order to infiltrate critical government posts, FETO affiliate students were given in advance the answers key to admission exams. There have been many investigations into mass-scale exam cheating in Turkey, including those for the Police Academy, Military Schools and other key governmental positions.
As civil servants or military staff, FETO loyalists’ allegiance was never to the nation or the state they served. Indeed, the handlers of those FETO affiliates deployed at critical governmental posts kept their indoctrination up-to-date and passed on the instructions of their ring-leader.
Walking on thin ice, the cult terrorist organisation tries to keep confidentially in its structure, and gives ‘code’ names to its affiliates to ensure secrecy. It is organised in cell-type structures and uses secret communication systems such as ByLock, Eagle, etc.
FETO loyalists infiltrating critical governmental posts abused their power to eliminate whoever opposed the organisation by illegal wiretapping, fabricating evidence and unlawful arrests, thereby intimidating and blackmailing a large segment of society including politicians, business people, journalists, etc. Many people in Turkey who saw the organisation for what it really was got lynched through FETO-affiliated media houses, which were established with a view to shaping public opinion.
In brief, the crime syndicate behind all this devised and ran an integrated system that took care of recruitment through schools and financing by holding companies and donations from business people. Meddling in business transactions and government tender processes, laundering enormous sums of money, arranging illegal transfers of cash and other financial crimes became business as usual for FETO.
During the past five years, the fight against FETO within Turkey and abroad has constituted one of the Turkish government’s main priorities.
FETO’s organisational structure within governmental institutions has been unveilled; administrative and judicial procedures have been initiated against its members, and hence the ‘parallel state structure’ has been brought down. We have thwarted FETO’s attempts to spread across all branches of the economy via its shell entities – particularly in the education, media and banking sectors. The perpetrators of the 15th of July coup attempt have been brought to justice, and several judicial processes are still ongoing. The investigations carried out against FETO are strictly in accordance with the rule of law.
Upon Turkey’s initiative, international organisations adopted resolutions declaring FETO a terrorist organisation. Such resolutions were adopted at the 43rd session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers held on 19 October 2016; at the Asian Parliamentary Assembly held on 1 December 2016; and at the 12th Conference of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC on 27 January 2017.
After losing its fortress in Turkey, FETO is now trying to survive through its network abroad. Their modus operandi is the same all around the world. This cult/terrorist organisation’s goal is to infiltrate states, establish parallel government structures and enlarge their global economic and political influence. As such, they pose an imminent security threat to any country they operate in. In the face of such peril, we continue to warn our friends against this malicious structure.
On 9 August 2019, four party groups in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, including the opposition parties, released a joint statement regarding FETO reiterating the call for Turkey’s allies and partners to take steps against this terrorist organisation and its leader.
July 15 was a trial of strength and perseverance for Turkish democracy and the State. All the political parties, both in government and in opposition, stood up against the attempted coup. We officially celebrate this momentous victory of democracy in our national history as Democracy and National Unity Day, and commemorate with deep sorrow the inconsolable loss of our martyrs.
The author is the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey