Gulen poses a threat for the United States and Turkey

October 13, 2016

On July 15, Fethullah Gulen and the Fethullan Terrorist Organization (FETO), led a coup attempt on July 15, likely aiming to topple the AKP government. The attempt harmed the Turkish people and was a crime against our citizens.

Extensive evidence shows that the coup attempt was orchestrated by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen – who resides in Pennsylvania – and a shadowy group of his followers that has been labeled as (FETO) by the Turkish government.

I myself have been victimized by the Fethullah Terror Organization (FETO) in Turkey by being both accused and imprisoned for allegedly taking part in a coup plot known as the Balyoz, or “Sledgehammer,” case. I have seen first-hand what the FETO organization does and what it is capable of doing in Turkey against its own people. The latest example was seen on July 15 in Ankara and Istanbul.

Members of the FETO network infiltrated the Turkish armed forces through two methods 20 years ago. Some of those methods are still used today: stealing the questions to the examination providing entry to military schools in order to ensure that members are accepted, and eliminating officers within the armed forces who opposed Gulen members or are not affiliated with them through wrongful charges of criminal activities (as was done during the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer trials). According to military investigations, the first known instance of theft of the exam questions was in 1986, with 500 students entering military schools in this manner.

I helped conduct military investigations into the Gulen network’s infiltration during my tenure at the Air Force Attorney General’s office, and investigations uncovered evidence that connected 30,000 officers to the Gulen movement between 1986 and 2006. During the following decade, an additional 40,000 officers are estimated to have entered into the armed services, thus making the number of affiliated officers approximately 100,000 by the present day. Of the 358 generals in the Turkish Armed Forces, 160 have been connected to this organization.

Despite the fact that everyone in Turkey – including the “party in power and the opposition” – knew about the secretive group and their goals, few acted to stop them during the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer trials. Some politicians spoke of the importance of “military oversight,” while Gulen-affiliated members of state institutions created an “empire of fear,” intimidating politicians into silence via threats of blackmail. In some cases, officials kept quiet because they were expecting promotions. Anyone who tried to investigate the organization was punished, sometimes with imprisonment based on forged evidence of criminal activity. Others were assassinated for digging too deep.

Gulen and the FETO organization have a track record of trying to destabilize our country and attack its citizens by any means necessary. Unless Gulen is extradited, FETO will continue to pose a real threat for Turkey and its allies. While the reputation of the group outside of Turkey is of a charitable, interfaith organization, its activities in Turkey over multiple decades prove a nefarious intent to take control of the Turkish state and have earned it the label of “terror organization.”

America has an obligation to assist its NATO ally in keeping the country stable. The United States needs to extradite Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey since he was behind the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15.

Ahmet Zeki Ucok is a former Turkey Air Force Prosecutor who served at the Air Force Attorney General’s office in Turkey, where he oversaw numerous high-level, politically charged investigations.