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Op-Ed by Republic of Turkey’s Ambassador to New Zealand, H.E. Mr Ahmet Ergin

We are commemorating the third anniversary of the failed coup attempt of 15 July 2016, by FETÖ, the clandestine and terrorist organisation led by the criminal mastermind Fetullah Gülen. The heinous actions by FETÖ on that day remain the bloodiest terror attack in the history of the Republic of Turkey.

The night of 15 July 2016 tested the Turkish will and resolution for our democracy.

We should remember that the people, all the political parties, both in government and in opposition, the uninfected elements of the armed forces, police force and the media stood against the uprising. Turks displayed an unprecedented solidarity when they stood selflessly in front of the military hardware of these coup plotters.

These putschists blitzed Parliament, the Presidential complex, the buildings of the National Intelligence headquarters and assaulted the Turkish National Police department. The Police Special Operations Center, a vital counter-terrorism operational body in the capital, Ankara, was bombarded by fighter jets, killing 55 police officers and injuring hundreds more. On that fateful night, 251 Turks were martyred, and more than 2,000 were wounded.

However, to judge the deeds of Fetullah Gülen and FETÖ only with what transpired on 15 July would be an oversight. The crimes committed on the night of 15 July were just the tip of the iceberg.

FETÖ sought for decades to infiltrate critical government institutions like the police, judiciary and armed forces, as part of their sinister efforts to reinstate their regime in Turkey.

All evidence collected in the aftermath and throughout the thorough administrative and judicial investigations and trials since have indicated that FETÖ, led by Fetullah Gülen orchestrated numerous criminal activities, for example large scale cheatings at the admission tests for public institutions, illegal wiretapping and money laundering operations. The police and the judiciary have taken action to dismiss the members of this cultish organisation from within their ranks.

Back in the 1970s, the movement started under the guise of a charitable education effort. Fetullah Gülen and his followers masqueraded 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 institutions worldwide. In terms of their influence, they were unparalleled.

We now understand that this was the first step of an infiltration campaign where children and their parents were recruited with the seemingly innocent promise of a better education followed by good employment prospects. These youngsters were put through an education system with academic and financial help and a heavy hand in indoctrination. They turned into obedient foot soldiers of Fetullah Gülen who claims to be the Chosen One.

His goal was to subvert the democratic foundations of the Turkish state and establish a new anti-democratic state under his supreme rule. His students were told that, in order to achieve their main goal of absolute control of the state, they should remain hidden and should shun all ethical, religious or personal beliefs.

Attaching great importance to confidentiality in its structure, and disguising this confidentiality as a “precaution”, the organisation uses “code” names for its members to ensure secrecy. This secrecy creates a unique and peculiar armed terrorist organisation where its lower level members know each other by their code names of a “celltype” structure.

There were mass-scale exam cheatings also: In order to infiltrate crucial government posts, FETÖ affiliated students were provided with the answers to entrance exams. There are currently numerous investigations into exam cheatings on a mass-scale in Turkey, including the Police Academy entrance tests, the Centralised Public Service Admission Tests, Military Schools and other government organisations.

The handlers of those FETÖ members staffed at critical governmental posts ensured their indoctrination was current and passed on the instructions of their leader. 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 organisation that disguised itself as an education movement disturbingly turned into a secretive operational structure aiming to transform Turkish society by taking control of the state from within.

As its strength grew, the organisation claimed 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. They also established media houses to shape public opinion for and against any person, group or idea. Many people in Turkey who saw the organisation for what it really is got lynched and purged 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.

As the organisation 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 those opposing the organisation. Some methods included illegal wiretapping, fabricating evidence, unlawful arrests, thereby intimidating and blackmailing a large segment of the society including politicians, businessmen, journalists, 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 already been mentioned.

Thousands of investigations and prosecutions, concerning the illegal activities of FETÖ members, are still pending. The finalised and ongoing 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.

Once the Turkish Government understood what was actually in play, the necessary legal actions were taken against FETÖ, in particular, the disclosure of their secret communication systems (ByLock, Eagle, etc.). Interceptions of FETÖ instructions made the Turkish Government’s efforts to identify their schemes and to incriminate them, easier.

Friday, 15 July 2016 was a desperate eleventh hour plot by FETÖ, at the time when the Turkish Government had discovered and listed most of the so-called military personnel, the actual recruits of FETÖ, and were readying themselves to dismiss them.

In other words, 15 July was a frantic move by Fetullah Gülen and his followers to seize the state and retain their control in Turkey.

The armed coup attempt on 15 July demonstrated FETÖ’s tenacity 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. Subsequently, 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 organisation and the Assembly of Criminal Chambers of the Court of Cassation upheld this judgement.

FETÖ is present in 160 countries, with thousands of schools, businesses, NGOs and media houses. Their modus operandi is the same globally. As they aim to infiltrate and enlarge their global economic and political influence, they represent a direct security threat for any country they operate in.

In these critical and most dangerous times, Turkey needs support and encouragement from her friends. We appreciate the invaluable support of our true friend, New Zealand, one of the first countries to express its solidarity with Turkey after the unfortunate events, which unfolded on 15 July 2016.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The views expressed within op-ed articles are not necessarily those of, or shared by, and the MIL-OSI network and are published due to public and international interest principals.