By Dr. Adnan Altinors
Consul General of Republic of Turkey in Hyderabad
HYDERABAD (RAHNUMA) Fetullah Gulen is the ringleader of a clandestine, criminal and terrorist organization called FETO that is unprecedented in terms of its global reach, ambitions and methods. Gulen is the mastermind behind what happened in Turkey on July 15th, 2016. All the evidence collected so far throughout the investigations and trials demonstrates that Gulen and his followers planned and tried to capture the Turkish Republic on that date. The goal was to subvert the democratic foundations of the Turkish state and establish a new anti-democratic one under the absolute rule of Gulen.
Gulen’s 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. Hundreds of civilians protesting the coup attempt in Ankara and Istanbul were shot to death. The coup plotters targeted public and private communication outlets, including TRT and CNN Turk.
Gulen and his followers disguised themselves as a benign education movement, when they started the campaign of establishing schools in Turkey back in the 1970s and later around the world. At the peak of their power, they controlled thousands of schools in Turkey and more than 800 educational institutes worldwide. 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 Gulen who claims to be the “Chosen One”. Then, the organization 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 Gulen as the “Imam of the Universe”. 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. The organization 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. Its members infiltrating critical state posts abused their power to eliminate who opposed the organization.
FETO is still present in around 160 countries including India, with many schools, businesses, NGOs and media houses. Their modus operandi is the same all around the world. They aim to infiltrate and enlarge their global economic and political influence and constitute a direct security threat for any country where they operate.
Four important years have passed since the July 15th coup attempt. The fight against FETO both inside and outside Turkey has been one of the main priorities of the country. Within Turkey, the efforts are being conducted under three pillars:
Firstly, in compliance with the principles of the rule of law and fundamental rights and freedoms, the perpetrators of the coup attempt have been brought to justice. Still several judicial processes and investigations are undergoing by the relevant Turkish authorities.
Secondly, 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.
Thirdly, 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 the country.
Turkey also expended its 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 and is being conducted under three pillars:
Firstly, Turkey has carried out approximately 16.000 initiatives at various levels to inform its foreign partners regarding the malicious of FETO affiliated entities and individuals with a view to demonstrating and proving the fact that FETO also poses a threat to the security of other countries where it remains active. As one of the concrete results of these official initiatives, several international organizations have adopted vital resolutions regarding FETO. 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.
Secondly, administrative measures have been taken and legal proceedings were initiated to limit the manoeuvring space of the FETO abroad and to prevent its members from transferring money and escaping justice. Within the scope of investigations conducted, Turkey requested the extradition and the freezing of the assets of FETO 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.
Thirdly, 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. FETO affiliated schools and education centres in 38 countries were closed down or taken over by the relevant country. In 20 of these, the affiliated schools and education centres have been transferred to the Turkish Maarif Foundation. Also, the Turkish Maarif Foundation opened schools in 22 countries.
FETO maintains its activities in India and in Hyderabad through its affiliated organizations. Turkish Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (TICCI) claims itself as a business partner and a trade bridge between Turkey and India. Indialogue Foundation claims itself as an international dialogue and peace organizations. Iqbalia International School and Iqbalia Junior College in Hyderabad provide academic and financial help and brainwash young minds, and host some events with the participation of foreign scholars. There are a number of FETO affiliated companies in Hyderabad as well.