The prime minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, on Friday fired his interior minister and the head of the intelligence agency for arresting and extraditing six suspects linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
It was reported on Thursday that the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MİT) had conducted a secret operation for the capture of six FETÖ officials working at FETÖ institutions disguised as schools in Kosovo.
"The entire operation — revoking their residence permits, detention, emergency deportation and the secret extradition to Turkey of the six Turkish citizens from Kosovo territory — was conducted without my knowledge and without my permission," Haradinaj said in a statement according to Reuters.
It is not clear when replacements for Interior Minister Flamur Sefaj and secret service chief Driton Gashi will be named.
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci also released a statement on Friday denying any knowledge of the operation.
Sefaj is from the Alliance for Kosovo's Future which is a member of the fragile coalition in power and his departure could further weaken Haradinaj's government.
The suspects were identified as Cihan Özkan, Kahraman Demirez, Hasan Hüseyin Günakan, Mustafa Erdem, Osman Karakaya and Yusuf Karabina, and they were transferred to Turkey in a private plane by MİT before their surrender to law enforcement officials.
The sources told AA that the suspects were in charge of all FETÖ activities in the region, as well as trafficking FETÖ members from Turkey to the U.S. and European countries, where the terrorist group maintains a strong presence.
Özkan was in charge of collecting tithes from FETÖ members in the Balkans and transferring the terrorist group's shares to the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, where FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen has been residing since 1999.
Günakan was the key figure in hiring teachers to the schools.
Karakaya assumed an active role in the Ergenekon sham trial launched by FETÖ-linked prosecutors and police officers targeting the officer corps and the chain of command of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). During the trial, Karakaya prepared reports in favor of FETÖ at the Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institution. FETÖ members used the Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) trials to infiltrate into the TSK, and a majority of officers and non-commissioned officers who took part in the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, which left 250 civilians killed and 2,200 others injured, were appointed to crucial command posts after these trials.
The head of FETÖ, Fetullah Gülen, started as an imam in the 1960s, becoming the head of a religious-political behemoth by the 2000s. Separated into financial, education, media and business operations and organized around individual cells, FETÖ members infiltrated state institutions, especially the judiciary, police and the military for decades.
The 1970s and 1980s were spent consolidating the group, creating the necessary education and financial structure while slowly placing members in state institutions. Its schools and prep schools served as the main recruiting tool for the group, which assigned particular degrees and vocations to its members. The group at first tried to gain public legitimacy by exploiting people's religious sentiment. At its peak, FETÖ operated schools in 160 countries from Afghanistan to the United States. Since the 2016, Turkey has been conducting a successful campaign to shut down FETÖ-linked school around the world.
Hundreds of judges and prosecutors, supported by thousands of police, which included old and new recruits, and people coerced into cooperation, initiated a criminal investigation that avalanched into a huge trial with hundreds of suspects.
These included the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases against secularist critics and the Tahşiye case against religious conservatives seen as threats. In the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases, suspects were released in 2014 after it was revealed that the trial was based on false evidence and fabricated charges and were a plot to imprison critics of FETÖ.
The dissolution of the group began in 2014, after its attempt to topple the government through a series of bogus corruption trials in December 2013. The government responded with a comprehensive offensive to rid the state of the FETÖ presence and suspended thousands of known FETÖ suspects from the judiciary and police. FETÖ-linked businesses, educational institutions and nongovernmental organizations were also targeted.
The failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 was FETÖ's final attempt to take over the state. Gülen currently resides in an expansive compound in Pennsylvania, U.S. Repeated Turkish requests for his extradition to Turkey to face charges have been rebuffed by American officials.
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