His Excellency, Mr. Hakan Kivanc, the Ambassador of Turkey to Zimbabwe has reiterated his country’s commitment to fighting terrorism and promoting democracy worldwide.
The Ambassador made the remarks on the occasion of the 15 July Feto Coup Attempt Briefing Meeting today Wednesday 15 July 2020 at the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Harare.
“For us, July 15 represents the day of national unity and democracy. Terrorists are threat to the global peace. The Turkish will continue to fight terrorism on its soil and at a global level until terrorism ends,” Ambassador Kivanc said.
Fetullah Gülen is the ringleader of a clandestine, criminal and terrorist organization called FETÖ that is unprecedented in terms of its global reach, ambitions and methods.
Gülen is one of the serious threats to Turkey. To understand the security threat posed by his crime network, one needs to look into the enormity of his actions, primarily the 15th July coup attempt, and the resulting trauma that the Turkish nation has experienced.
FETÖ AND 15 JULY COUP ATTEMPT
Gülen is the mastermind behind what happened in Turkey on July 15th, 2016.
Gülen and his followers planned and tried to capture the Turkish Republic on that date.
His disciples within the armed forces did not shy away from using lethal military force against innocent civilians, killing 251 and wounding thousands. They tried to assassinate the President of the Republic of Turkey. They attacked the Prime Minister’s vehicle and air-bombarded the Grand National Assembly. The Presidential Complex, the buildings of the National Intelligence Organization and Turkish National Police departments were attacked. The Police Special Operations Center, the crucial counter-terrorism operational body of Turkey in Ankara, was bombed by fighter jets, killing 55 police officers and injuring hundreds on the spot.
Hundreds of civilians protesting the coup attempt in Ankara and Istanbul were shot to death. The FETÖ coup plotters targeted public and private communication outlets, including TRT (state broadcasting channel) and CNN Türk.
All the evidence collected so far throughout the investigations and trials demonstrates that the bloodiest terrorist attack in the history of Turkey was orchestrated by FETÖ under the instructions of Fetullah Gülen.
We have an extensive collection of factual evidence including video footage, digital materials gathered at Akıncı Air Base (the center of operations of the coup-plotters), satellite communications among plotters, the confessions of FETÖ members who actively participated in the coup attempt and the statements of those Turkish officers resisting the coup attempt.
To start with a crucial evidence; the then Chief of General Staff and the current Minister of Defense, General Hulusi Akar, was held hostage by the plotters during the coup attempt at Akıncı Air Base. Officers proved to be FETÖ members, leading the coup, urged him to speak directly to Fetullah Gülen, hoping to persuade him to join them.
In the same military air base, at least five civilians were present on the night of 15 July. Those civilians were all FETÖ members, commanding the military coup-plotters throughout the night:
- Adil Öksüz, a professor of theology and known to be the secret chief executive of FETÖ in charge of FETÖ members within the Turkish Armed Forces.
- Kemal Batmaz, former CEO of a company directly owned by FETÖ. He was also the secret executive of FETÖ in charge of FETÖ members within the Turkish Air Force.
- Hakan Çiçek, owner of a FETÖ-affiliated school in Ankara, the secret executive of FETÖ in charge of FETÖ members within the Turkish Land Forces.
- Harun Biniş, former employee of the Information and Communication Technology Authority, who was, then, accused of wiretapping the phones of senior government officials upon the instructions of FETÖ. He was the secret executive of FETÖ in charge of FETÖ members within the Turkish Navy.
- Nurettin Oruç, a former teacher at a FETÖ-run school and the secret executive of FETÖ in charge of FETÖ members within the Turkish Gendarmerie.
The images of these persons were captured by the surveillance cameras at the Akıncı Air Base, while communicating with the military coup plotters.
We now know that they travelled several times to the US in 2016, the latest one being on 11-13 July, 2016, just two days before the coup attempt. They met Fetullah Gülen in Pennsylvania.
In particular, Kemal Batmaz, in one of his visits, stated before the US Customs officials at the Newark Airport that he was there to visit Fetullah Gülen. The written statement of Batmaz was shared with us by the relevant US authorities.
Before and after each US visit, Adil Öksüz and other civilian plotters travelled to Ankara to hold preparatory meetings for the coup with the FETÖ members in the army. Locations of these secret meetings in Ankara and fingerprints of high-ranking officers proven to be FETÖ members participating in those meetings have also been identified. More importantly, we have the testimonies of a number of FETÖ members who participated in these secret meetings, confessing that Adil Öksüz told them he had received the approval and further instructions from Fetullah Gülen regarding the coup plot.
Even on the night of 15 July as the coup was underway, the plotters were in direct communication with the FETÖ ringleader. We have found the smartphones of Hakan Çiçek and Kemal Batmaz which they threw to the field nearby the Akıncı Air Base to obscure evidence upon recognizing the coup attempt had failed. It took a while for us to decode and analyse the contents of their communication on that night. The findings were startling: Hakan Çiçek texting close associates of Fetullah Gülen in Pennsylvania, in order to get in touch with the FETÖ ringleader. He says “brother, pass the phone to him immediately”, “It is a matter of life and death”. As the coup was in progress, Hakan Çiçek also sent other messages to Pennsylvania urging them “stay with him”, “if there is a need to call” and “ok, keep him together with you, if needed”.
WHAT IS FETÖ?
To judge the deeds of Fetullah Gülen and FETÖ 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 an 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. At the peak of their power, they controlled thousands of schools in Turkey and more than eight hundred educational institutes worldwide. In terms of their reach, they were unprecedented.
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 school with academic and financial help and mainly a heavy hand in indoctrination. They turned into unquestioning foot soldiers of Fetullah Gülen who claims to be the “Chosen One”. The goal was to subvert the democratic foundations of the Turkish state and establish a new anti-democratic one under the absolute rule of Gülen. His students were also told that, to achieve their main goal of taking the control of the state, they should remain hidden and they could eschew all ethical, religious or personal beliefs. Attaching great importance to confidentiality in its structure, and calling the confidentiality as a “precaution”, the organisation gives “code” names to its members apart from their real names to ensure secrecy. In this way, this is a unique and peculiar armed terrorist organisation where its lower level members know each other by their code names and which has a “cell-type” structure.
There were mass-scale exam cheatings as well: In order to infiltrate the critical government posts, FETÖ affiliated students were provided with the answers to entrance exams. There are currently many investigations into mass-scale exam cheatings in Turkey, including the Police Academy entrance tests, the Centralized Public Service Admission Tests, Military Schools and other governmental jobs.
The handlers of those FETÖ members staffed at critical governmental posts kept their indoctrination up-to-date and passed on the instructions of FETÖ. As civil servants or military personnel, FETÖ members’ 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.
Thus, the organization that disguised itself as an education movement gradually turned into a secretive operational structure aiming to transform the society by taking control of the Turkish state from within.
As its strength grew, the organization began to claim a global messianic mission, depicting Fetullah Gülen as the “Imam of the Universe”.
The crime syndicate behind all this devised and ran an integrated system that took care of recruitment through schools and cram schools; financing was taken care of by holding companies and donations from business people. The organization also established media houses to shape the public opinion for and against any person, group or idea. Many people in Turkey who saw the organization for what it really is got lynched through these media houses. These media houses became the focal point of actions taken against journalists, academicians, bureaucrats and military officers who opposed them, or tried to expose them. They were lynched and purged.
As the organization became more affluent, it started 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.
The FETÖ members infiltrating critical state posts abused their power to eliminate who opposed the organization, by illegal wiretapping, fabricating evidence, unlawful arrests, thereby intimidating and blackmailing a large segment of the society including politicians, businessmen, journalists, even athletes and artists among many.
Turkish judicial authorities rendered numerous conviction decisions against members of this crime syndicate due to its various criminal acts, some of which have been elaborated above. Thousands of investigations and prosecutions concerning the illegal activities of FETÖ members are still pending. The ongoing and finalised investigations, prosecutions and trials yielded that Fetullah Gülen is the administrator and ringleader of FETÖ armed terrorist organisation and that he gave the order to stage the coup.
As the Turkish Government understood what was actually in place, the necessary legal actions were taken against FETÖ. In particular, the disclosure of their secret communication systems (ByLock, Eagle, etc.) and interceptions of FETÖ instructions made our efforts easier to identify their schemes and to incriminate them.
July 15th was plotted at the time when the government had discovered and listed most of the so-called military personnel who were actually recruits of FETÖ and thus was getting ready to dismiss them. In other words, July 15th was a desperate final move of Fetullah Gülen and his followers to keep their control in place in Turkey and capture the state.
15 July armed coup attempt demonstrated FETÖ’s resolute to unwaveringly use terror, alongside other crimes, as a means to achieve its ultimate aim. With this act, FETÖ has clearly shown itself to the world as one of the most dangerous terrorist groups. Hence, the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation decreed on 24 April 2017 by its judgement merit no. 2015/3 and decision no. 2017/3 that FETÖ is an armed terrorist organization and the Assembly of Criminal Chambers of the Court of Cassation upheld this judgement.
FETÖ is present in around 160 countries, with thousands of schools, businesses, NGOs and media houses. Their modus operandi is the same all around the world. As they aim to infiltrate and enlarge their global economic and political influence, they constitute a direct security threat for any country where they operate.
TURKISH FIGHT AGAINST FETÖ
Four important years have passed since the 15th of July coup attempt carried out by the FETO terrorist organization.
In the past four years, the fight against FETO both inside and outside Turkey has constituted one of the main priorities of our country. Within Turkey, our efforts are being conducted under three pillars:
a) Firstly, on the basis of the rule of law, the perpetrators of the 15th of July coup attempt have been brought to justice. Still several judicial processes are undergoing by relevant authorities and investigations have been carried about FETÖ in our country.
b) FETO’s organizational structure within governmental institutions has been unveiled; administrative and judicial procedures have been initiated against its members and hence the “parallel state structure” has been brought down.
c) Apart from those within the governmental institutions, FETO’s attempts to spread across all areas of the economy via its shell entities, particularly in the education, media and banking sectors, have been thwarted inside our country.
Despite facing extraordinary security challenges, we have been able to successfully conduct our fight at home in compliance with the principles of the rule of law and fundamental rights and freedoms. We have also expended efforts to avoid grievances and established new mechanisms to examine and settle alleged grievances.
As these developments took place, FETO has undergone a significant transformation. The organization, which lost its backbone in Turkey, is now trying to survive by making use of its structure abroad. Thus, fighting against the structures of FETO abroad has gained significance.
The fight against FETO structures abroad has been among the top priorities of our country.
The outline of Turkish efforts can be summarised as follows:
a) The main objective of our efforts is to demonstrate and prove the fact that FETO also poses a threat to the security of other countries where it remains active. We, therefore, continue to warn our friends against this structure and thus we are satisfied with the rising awareness against this group as a consequence of our efforts. In this regard, we have been carried out approximately 16.000 initiatives at various levels to inform our foreign partners regarding the malicious of FETÖ affiliated entities and individuals.
As one of the concrete results of these official initiatives, several international organizations have adopted vital resolutions regarding FETÖ. Moreover, countries that have investigated and monitored this group have often founded that they are involved in an extensive list of crimes such as money laundering, intimidation, bribery and passport/visa fraud.
Various countries and international organizations have declared FETO as a terrorist organization. In this context, FETO was declared as a terrorist organization in the 43rd session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC held on 19 October 2016; a similar resolution was written at the Asian Parliamentary Assembly on 1 December 2016 and ratified at the 12th Conference of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC on 27 January 2017. In addition to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared FETO a terrorist organization with the verdict rendered on 28 December 2018.
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 to Turkey’s allies and partners to take steps against this terrorist organization and its leader.
b) Moreover, we have taken administrative measures and initiated legal proceedings to limit the manoeuvring space of the FETO terrorist organization abroad and to prevent its members from transferring money and escaping justice. Within the scope of investigations conducted in Turkey, we have requested the extradition and the freezing of the assets of FETÖ members from the countries where these persons are located.
The awareness raised regarding FETO in third countries has also stimulated closer monitoring and investigation of the activities related to these elements by the officials of some countries. Unlawful acts carried out by FETO-affiliated organizations have thus been revealed in various countries.
c) The Turkish Maarif Foundation maintains its activities all around the world to prevent any shortfalls resulting from the steps taken against FETO, especially in the field of education.
With the contribution of our missions abroad that implement intensive efforts within the framework summarized above, we are getting concrete results.
FETÖ affiliated schools and education centers in 38 countries were closed down or taken over by the relevant country. In 20 of these, the affiliated schools and education centers have been transferred to the Turkish Maarif Foundation. Also, Turkish Maarif Foundation has opened schools in 22 countries.