By Tunca Ozcuhadar
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka
Fetullah Gulen, the leader of FETO, was the mastermind behind what happened in Turkey on July 15, 2016. Gulen and his disciples planned and tried to capture the Turkish Republic. They did not hesitate to use lethal military force against innocent civilians, killing 251 and wounding thousands.
The two-year-long investigations and judicial process on the events of the coup bid have produced countless crucial evidences. Most recent findings illustrate that even on the night of July 15, the plotters were in direct communication with FETO leadership. However, to judge the deeds of this man and his organization only with what transpired on July 15 would be a mistake. The crimes committed on the night of July 15 can be considered as only the tip of the iceberg.
To understand why Gulen and FETO have become the number one enemy in Turkey, we will need to look at their actions and the resulting trauma that the Turkish nation experienced. It all started under the guise of a charitable education effort. I would like to emphasize this aspect because that is exactly what this organization is up to in many countries. Unfortunately, we could not decipher their darker underbelly earlier. They disguised themselves as a benign education movement and started the campaign of establishing schools in Turkey and later, around the world.
But, we now understand that this was the first step of an infiltration campaign where kids and their parents were recruited with the seemingly innocent promise of a better education and a good job. These kids were put through schools with academic and financial help and were subjected to a heavy hand of indoctrination. They turned into unquestioning foot soldiers of Gulen. They were provided with the answers to entrance exams for prominent schools and later, for prestigious government jobs. They were ordered to stay hidden and to infiltrate state institution. They were told that, to achieve their main goal of capturing the state, they could eschew all ethical, religious or personal beliefs. Their handlers kept their indoctrination up-to-date and passed on the instructions of their leader. As civil servants or military personnel, their loyalty was not to the nation, or to the state they served. They did not care about upholding the Constitution or the legal system of the country.
The crime syndicate behind all this devised and ran an integrated system that took care of recruitment through schools and private tuition classes; financing was taken care of by holding companies and donations from business people. The organization established media houses to shape the public opinion for and against many persons, groups or ideas. Many persons in Turkey who saw the organization for what it really was were lynched by these media houses. These media houses became the focal point for actions taken against journalists, academics, bureaucrats and military officers who opposed them, or tried to expose them. They were lynched and purged.
As the organization grew stronger and became more affluent, it started meddling in business transactions and government tender processes. Money laundering, illegal cash transfers and other financial crimes became their usual business.
When the Turkish government finally understood what was actually taking place, FETO started to take drastic and extreme actions. The first wave of these actions came in December 2013, where the organization released a number of so-called recordings and fabricated material. That attack proved inconclusive and provided a wake-up call -- both to the government and the public.
Upon discovering their secret communication systems and intercepting the instructions, we started to counter their moves and discover the extent of the infiltration and the infection it had caused. July 15 happened at a time when the Turkish armed forces had discovered and were getting ready to expel most of the so-called military personnel who were actually recruits of the organization.
July 15 was a desperate move to keep their control in place and to capture the state which they were aiming to do through infiltration. Despite the fact that we define it as a coup attempt, this was no ordinary coup. In none of the coup or coup attempts in the past did we have the putschists opening fire on civilians, let alone bombing the Parliament, the Presidential Complex or the Police Headquarters.
FETO established itself in around 160 countries including Sri Lanka, with thousands of schools and businesses. Their actions in Turkey should be considered as a wake-up-call for other countries. We are pleased to note ever increasing awareness on part of our partners regarding the security threat posed by FETO. In many regions, FETO schools and other entities have been closely inspected and put under state control. Investigations into FETO structures and FETO operatives are under way in many countries. Global crime apparatus of this organization is shrinking.