It was unclear whether the ruling cadres of the army were once again staging a coup in Turkey in the early hours of Friday evening when tanks rolled in on the streets and troops started taking over of a public broadcaster. Soon, it was found out that army's chief Hulusi Akar was held hostage by officers and government officials started releasing statements blaming it on Gülenists, a shady group designated as a terrorist organization. Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ) was quick to deny responsibility but the confessions of military officers involved in the junta's attempt and several remarkable incidents indicate Gülenists are directly responsible for the coup attempt that killed 246 police officers, soldiers and civilians.
Police officers escort Brigadier General Fatih Celaleddin Sağır to a police station. Sağır confessed to be a Gülenist.
An investigation is underway to establish the links between Gülenists and junta officers but certain incidents such as the discovery of a FETÖ-linked former police officer inside a tank targeting civilians and confessions by officers already reveal connections.
Confessions of military officers
Brigadier General Fatih Celaleddin Sağır, commander of an infantry brigade in the central city of Sivas, was among the list of people the coup plotters planned to assign as martial law commander if the coup attempt succeeded. Sağır confessed he was connected to FETÖ in his interrogation by prosecutors. According to his statements published by İhlas News Agency, Sağır said he often attended the meetings of Gülen followers especially in the 1980s and 1990s and served "the movement" for 10 years. He claimed he distanced himself from Gülenists after 2007, especially following sham trials masterminded by Gülenists to imprison military officers.
Lieutenant Colonel Levent Türkkan, the aide of Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar, who was detained after the coup attempt, has also confessed that he is a member of the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ), which he said was behind the deadly July 15 coup attempt.
According to testimony records, Türkkan actively participated in the coup attempt. He said that Major General Mehmet Dişli, who also took part in the coup attempt, is a member of FETÖ. Speaking about his background, Türkkan said that he comes from an impoverished family and met with the Gülen Movement during adolescence. He confessed to being a member of the Gülen Movement, and said that he started acting on the orders of Gülenists after he started working at the adjutancy. In his testimony, Türkkan said the Gülenists gave him the answers to the military school admission exam in a house belonging to them in Bursa the night before the exam. Türkkan also said that he used to wiretap former Chief of Staff Necdet Özel on a regular basis, on the orders of Gülenists. He noted that he would deliver the wiretapping device to a Gülenist working for Turkish telecommunications authority on a weekly basis.
Gülen-linked police chief found in the tank
Mithat Aynacı was a police chief in Istanbul until 2013 when he was dismissed for his role in two Gülen-linked coup attempts against the government then under the guise of a police probe targeting people close to the politicians. He managed to get back to duty after he won a lawsuit against his dismissal. The night when tanks headed to the headquarters of Istanbul police, Aynacı, donning his police uniform, was found in one of the tanks he entered. A video recording shows the officer getting into the tank and another one shows he exits in a military officer uniform.
The messages caught on the mobile phone of former chief of police Zeki T. who was taken into custody in front of the Turkish National Police Department of Intelligence, were also counted as evidence that points out that the coup was orchestrated by members of FETÖ. The message reads: "Brothers should carry out the orders coming from the police department. Everybody should go to the building of the Turkish General Staff; teams should contact each other and form a link. Everybody should be notified, even the retired personnel. The retired personnel should grab their guns too... and take down everybody who is resisting," demonstrated how the plan of the terrorist organization worked.
Captain Haldun Gülmez of Naval Forces who was in the team that attacked the hotel in which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was staying and was captured injured by the police forces was discovered to be carrying a document containing a "beddua," a prayer of damnation Fethullah Gülen often recites to condemn the government. Another interesting link connecting Gülmez and Major Recep Zafer, another coup officer, is a 2010 exam. The wives of Gülmez and Zafer were among the suspects of alleged fraud on the 2010 nationwide Public Personnel Selection Examination (KPSS). This discovery drew attention as the fraud investigation as well as failed coup attempt is related to FETÖ. FETÖ is accused of supplying questions and answers to KPSS participants sympathizing with Gülenists, according to an indictment on the case. FETÖ is also accused of supplying answers to exams used for admission into military schools. It was revealed that 580 women who are suspects of the 2010 KPSS investigation are wives of military officers and they passed the exam by answering more than 100 questions correctly.
Experts said that people who are needed in a coup attempt are obviously taking into consideration Turkey's political position, social atmosphere and the judicial process.
Retired colonel and military judge Ahmet Zeki Üçok who was acquitted from the Sledgehammer (Balyoz) coup plot case and is one of the plaintiffs in the İzmir-based military espionage operation, said that FETÖ was organized within the Turkish General Staff (TSK) insidiously and the organization, whose ultimate objective is to take over all ranks of the state, carried out secret plans in order to take over the TSK as well.
Üçok also touched upon the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 2015 coup attempt by saying, "Since they cannot come into power via elections, they planned a military coup by mobilizing their members infiltrated within the police force, judicial system and military. FETÖ's plan to take over the government and state by orchestrating a military coup has been featured in numerous intelligence studies since the 1970s and 80s. FETÖ, which has pit in special effort to have a say in the TSK, had students change schools and private teaching institutions that are owned by them in order to hide the link between them and the students before enrolling them to military high schools. Today, the TSK uncovers FETÖ members within their institution."
'There are F-16 jets that will take off on the orders of Gülen'
Retired military Judge Üçok referred to the indictment about the "Işık Houses Investigation" that he carried out in Kayseri in 2009 as the military prosecutor and accepted by 1st High Criminal Court in Kayseri. He said, "The retired lieutenant colonel who got nine years imprisonment told the court that he sympathizes with Gülen and his organization helped students who are staying at Işık Houses in their Military Academy exams. In his testimony, the retired lieutenant colonel said that two brigadier generals with code names 'Asım' and 'Yüksel' visited Gülen while they were still students and a colonel, standing in the garden of the Turkish Air Force building, told him 'We have F-16 jets that will take off on the orders of Gülen' almost seven years ago."
Retired military judge Faik Tarımcıoğlu, on the other hand, said that the failed junta will be put on trial for attempting coup and their mental, spiritual and organic link to FETÖ. "According to official statements, junta and FETÖ share 'de facto loyalty,' 'organic loyalty' and 'mental loyalty.' Aside from all these, a link has been discovered between a crime organization and the junta," said Tarımcıoğlu.