ORGANIZATONS TURKEY LISTS AS TERRORIST
Fetullahist Terror Organization, or FETO, was not yet (discovered to be) FETO when it made its first appearance in Turkey in the late 1970s. Formerly it was known as the “Gülen community”, as a religious community in the first place. Fetullah Gülen, the leader of the cult-like organization, was preaching on the vitality of education, opening schools across Turkey and then around the world. Some FETO publications such as the magazine Sızıntı and the daily newspaper Zaman were established in the 1980s and a TV channel, STV, followed them in 1993. FETO even owned a bank called Bank Asya, and then went on to have everything of its own from a courier company to a furniture brand. It was, as it were, the FETO Empire.
FETO schools played a key role in the formation of this “parallel state” within the state. These schools were not opened for only accessible “good” education. They had an ulterior motive of raising new members for the parallel state, who would then infiltrate state institutions and supplant their colleagues through various schemes to make space for other FETO members, including stealing exam questions and sharing them with FETO members in advance, an impropriety for which FETO was notorious in Turkey during its vibrant years. FETO functioned as an odd combination of an intelligence agency, a religious cult, a business empire and a civil society organization, all of which were dedicated to making up a parallel state.
The existence of this parallel state was explicitly confessed by Fetullah Gülen himself. In a video probably shot in the 1990s he put it bluntly: “The presence of our friends [in certain positions] is a guarantee for our Islamic future. To this end, the presence of our friends within the judiciary, military or in another vital position should not be evaluated as individual posts. These people are a guarantee for us in those units [judiciary, military and so on]. These are the pulse of our existence to a certain extent. It is highly important to protect our friends in any of these positions. Our friends will have bright futures within the system.”
(FETO was included in Turkey’s list of terror organizations two months before the coup attempt. However, the July 15 should be given specific attention because it was the last but the deadliest manifestation of FETO terror.)
Two of those “friends” mentioned by the FETO leader played vital roles in the July 15 coup attempt. One of them, Adil Öksüz, was a theology professor while the other, Kemal Batmaz, was an executive in one of the most important financial sources of FETO, Kaynak Holding. They went to the US together, the country where Fetullah Gülen lives, on 11 July 2016 and returned to Turkey on 13 July 2016, two days before the coup attempt. They were clearly seen in video records of the CCTV cameras in the Ataturk International Airport in İstanbul as walking side by side. An indictment claimed that Batmaz showed the coup plan to Gülen to have his approval during their trip to the US.
On the coup night both were rushing around in a military jet base in capital Ankara, where the coup was directed, in casual clothing along with three other civilians. It was not only that there were five civilians in a jet base on the coup night but also that the base commander was seen in a video recorded by a CCTV camera as saluting one of them, Kemal Batmaz. It was like a surreal nightmare, which Turkey collectively had. Both were arrested in the morning of July 16, though Adil Öksüz was released by a judge who was later arrested and confessed affiliation to FETO.
Now, the naturally arising question is: what on earth a theology professor and a private company executive could be doing in a military jet base – on the coup night? And why would the base commander salute the latter as if he was his senior? In fact, these two civilians were indeed “senior” to the base commander in FETO’s own hierarchy. Later on it was revealed that Adil Öksüz, the theology professor, was the “military imam” while Kemal Batmaz, the company executive, was the “air forces imam” of FETO. The aforementioned bizarre picture should now make better sense: FETO members has always already acted according to FETO’s hierarchical structure, not the official hierarchy of the Turkish state. On the coup night, it was just that they no longer needed to hide it.
When Kemal Batmaz was shown in court the videos in which he and Adil Öksüz were walking together in the airport, he said their company was a coincidence. When asked what he was doing in the jet base on the coup night, he said he was looking for a land to buy, an excuse put forward by Adil Öksüz as well. He also denied that the person seen in the jet base on the coup night was himself saying the person resembled himself but was not himself. But an expert report proved by way of analyzing the way the person walked that the civilian seen in the security camera as being saluted by the base commander was unequivocally Kemal Batmaz.
Adil Öksüz was a figure no less critical than Kemal Batmaz, and maybe more mysterious than the latter. He appeared in a video kneeling before Fetullah Gülen with kids and was also photographed with him elsewhere. The frequency of his travels was outstanding compared to an ordinary public employee like himself. He flied 134 times in the last 15 years, namely once in every 40 days. He had been to the jet base 12 times since 2015. While under detention, it was realized by a gendarmerie personnel that he placed a GPS device in a restroom.
Adil Öksüz and Kemal Batmaz were just two among dozens of FETO affiliates who played key roles in the coup attempt. There is ample evidence that FETO launched the July 15 coup attempt and Turkish people had no doubts about it. According to a survey conducted after the coup attempt, 97 percent of Turkish people consider Fetullah Gülen and the members of his organization terrorist. But even if we put all evidence and the solid public opinion aside, the presence of Adil Öksüz and Kemal Batmaz in the jet base is enough to render Fetullah Gülen and his community the primary suspect of the coup attempt, hence possibly the most complex terror organization in the history of modern Turkey.
- THE PKK
The PKK is much less sophisticated a terror organization in comparison to FETO. But its violence is much bloodier. It killed more than 7,500 civilians and 8,000 law enforcers since 1984, the year it conducted its first attack against Turkey. The PKK is a Marxist-Leninist militant organization – listed as terrorist group by Turkey, the US, NATO and the EU – that seeks to impose its ideology on Turkey’s majority-Kurdish southeast.
The PKK usually tries to justify its violence by pointing to the decades-long oppression of Turkish Kurds. It is true that the Kurds were deprived of political representation in Turkey, especially until the 2000s. Kurdish political parties such as the People’s Labor Party (HEP), the Democracy Party (DEP), the People’s Democracy Party (HADEP) or the Democratic Society Party (DTP) were either shut down or at least brought before the Constitutional Court of Turkey to be shut down.
Even the words ‘Kurd’ or ‘Kurdistan’ were still not welcome in the eyes of the state at the beginning of the 2000s. In 2002, for instance, a prosecutor wanted to sentence a 14-year-old student to three years aggravated jail time because she replaced the word Turk with Kurd in Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s saying “How happy is the one who says, I am a Turk!”
The 2000s, however, were marked as a decade in which the Kurds found much better conditions for political representation, and restrictions on their rights and freedoms were lifted. For instance, election propaganda was officially allowed to be delivered in languages other than Turkish in 2010. HAK-PAR’s chairman gave his electoral speech in Kurdish on the state channel TRT for the first time in Turkey’s history.
Add to these the vital efforts of the government led by then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to make peace with the PKK. But, as indicated above, the PKK has become the party to break the ceasefire and got back to killings.
The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP-C, is one of the most active violent groups on Turkish soil. The terror organization called itself “Revolutionary Left” when it materialized in 1978, and took up the current name in 1994.
DHKP-C carried out many horrendous attacks on Turkish politicians, bureaucrats and business people. In 1980 it assassinated Prime Minister Nihat Erim – an incident which played a crucial part in the development of the 1980 coup d’état. In 1996 Ozdemir Sabanci, a top businessman in Turkey, fell victim to the terror group in his office along with two of his colleagues.
The last terror attack of DHKP-C in Turkey targeted prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz who was investigating the death of a boy who died at the end of weeks of coma after a gas canister fired by the police hit him in the head during the Gezi protests in the summer of 2013. DHKP-C terrorists took prosecutor Kiraz hostage and murdered him before being neutralized by the police.