Europe

Germany underestimating FETO threat: Turkish envoy

Group behind failed-coup attempt in Turkey has extensive network in Germany, Turkish ambassador says

Ayhan Şimşek   | 16.07.2019
Germany underestimating FETO threat: Turkish envoy

BERLIN

German authorities are underestimating the threat posed by Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), Turkey's ambassador to Berlin said on Tuesday.

In an op-ed published on the embassy’s website, Ambassador Ali Kemal Aydin said the group behind the 2016 failed coup attempt in Turkey was tolerated and its members were still active in Germany, despite Ankara’s strong warnings.

“Many prep-schools, private schools, associations linked to this terrorist organization constitute an extensive network across Germany and these institutions are used for indoctrination and for recruiting new members,” he said.

“Members of this [FETO] network may be instructed by the organization at any time to do unlawful acts here, just as they did in Turkey three years ago,” he warned.

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup in 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long, secretive campaign to wrest control of the state in Turkey through infiltration into key institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

FETO activities in Germany

Aydin underlined that FETO has lost its backbone in Turkey as a result of strong actions taken in recent years, but he also noted that the terrorists group was trying to survive by making use of its structures abroad.

He urged German authorities to take measures to curb FETO activities in their country, which is home to more than 3 million Turkish immigrants.

“If Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution puts this criminal organization and its members under surveillance, it would be the first effective step to reveal the real face of FETO in the country,” he said, adding that Turkey was ready to cooperate with Germany to counter the threat posed by the group.

Since the 1990s, Gulen’s shadowy group managed to build a large network in Germany, including dozens of private schools, NGOs, business associations and media organizations

Local authorities view FETO with suspicion, but the group is still not outlawed in the country, with the authorities stressing that such a move could only come with strong evidence of acts against German laws and the constitution.

The group have long tried to avoid public criticism in Germany by focusing on "interfaith dialogue" programs, sticking to “moderate” messages, with the goal of winning the trust of media, influential churches, and political institutions in the country.

But its former members, who spoke to the German media recently, stressed that the group has a dual structure, and despite its “democratic” and “moderate” image in public, it has a secretive and strict hierarchy controlled by its ideological leaders.

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