On the evening of July 15, 2016, the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization” (FETO) launched a bloody coup attempt against the people and government of my country. Their goal was to establish a radical fundamentalist regime, loyal only to their leader Fethullah Gülen.
As FETO-affiliated army units left their barracks to occupy key locations, such as the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, and fighter jets and attack helicopters bombarded strategic targets, including the parliament , the presidential compound, the headquarters of the army and the police; Thousands of civilians took to the streets to put an end to this unprecedented heinous coup attempt. The plotters killed 251 innocent civilians and injured thousands. That night, the Turkish people defended democracy with their lives. This heroic response was something the conspirators had not anticipated.
To understand what happened, one must understand the true nature of FETO. FETO was created in the late 1960s as a so-called “religious movement“. Under the guise of promoting education and interreligious dialogue, he managed to hide his malicious intentions.
The well-planned and widespread infiltration by FETO members and converts into the military, law enforcement, the judiciary and many government institutions, including my ministry, has been carried out clandestinely for decades for a global plan, the final phase of which was launched on July 15. , 2016.
Had the coup attempt succeeded, there would have been a very different Türkiye today. Democracy would not have existed and fundamental rights and freedoms would have been suspended indefinitely. The nation would have fallen into the hands of an extremist government.
FETO not only controlled a significant part of educational institutions, but also owned many financial institutions. Their bank accounts were funded by prominent FETO members in industry and commerce, as well as government officials and members of the public. Many innocent civilians were also tricked into contributing to FETO’s finances as their piety was manipulated. Huge revenues from their schools around the world were funneled into these accounts pending their ultimate move.
Following the bloody coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a resolute cleansing of the public sector, including government institutions and the military, as well as the private sector of all people and businesses affiliated with FETO was initiated. Some prominent conspirators have been apprehended. Others escaped justice and found refuge in foreign countries. The leader of the terrorist organization FETO, Fethullah Gülen, still resides in the United States. Our government has been asking for years for the extradition of Gülen to Turkey from the United States as well as that of FETO members from European countries. Unfortunately, these requests have not yet been met.
On the other hand, elsewhere in the world, a growing number of governments are realizing the danger that this terrorist organization also represents for them and are taking the necessary measures. FETO is also engaged in illegal activities such as visa fraud, money laundering and arms trafficking. Consequently, FETO members are eliminated from the public and private sectors in many countries. Many schools affiliated with this terrorist organization abroad were transferred to Turkey Maarif Foundation after 2016. Today, Maarif schools operate in many countries and provide excellent education all over the world.
The nature and scope of Turkey’s fight against FETO is no different from those waged by other countries against organizations that have terrorized public officials and civilians and endangered democratic values, fundamental rights and freedoms. Turkey is doing what the respective countries in their fight against terrorism have done in the past. All procedures are in accordance with the law.
Terrorism has no nationality, ethnicity or religion. This threat threatens all of humanity. Therefore, the response to this threat must be united and determined. No state affords itself the luxury of differentiating between terrorists and no terrorist organization can be qualified as “useful”, according to its preferences. FETO is responsible for the loss of hundreds of lives as well as other serious crimes against the Turkish people. Six years after July 15, 2016, Turkey continues its resolute fight against FETO, just as it continues its fight against other terrorist organizations such as the PKK, PYD-YPG, DHKP/C and Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) .
We expect the international community to show solidarity with Turkey in the fight against terrorism.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.