A noncommissioned officer in the central Anatolian province of Sivas told law enforcement officials that the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) kept close tabs on the political leanings and habits of officers, and especially whether they were Alevis or not.
The noncommissioned officer, identified by his initials C.T., turned state's evidence after being detained in an operation targeting FETÖ members. He said he met with the terrorist group in 1999.
In 2000, his locker and room were searched under the suspicion that he was involved in extremist activities. A week later he was demoted. When he asked what happened to his contact from FETÖ, he was told to act differently. "I was told to stop prayers. If needed, I was to drink alcohol. I later drank alcohol at the officers' club in front of the division commander."
Starting as a lowly imam in the 1960s, Fetullah Gülen (R) became the head of a religious-political behemoth by the 2000s. Separated into financial, education, media and business sections and organized around individual cells, FETÖ for decades infiltrated state institutions, especially the judiciary, police and the military.
The 1970s and 1980s were spent consolidating the group, creating the necessary education and financial structure while slowly infiltrating into state institutions. Its schools and prep schools served as the main recruiting ground for the group, which assigned particular degrees and vocations for its members. The group at first tried to gain public legitimacy by exploiting people's religious feelings.
Hundreds of judges and prosecutors, supported by thousands of police officers, which included old and new recruits, and people coerced into cooperation, would initiate a criminal investigation, which would avalanche into a huge trial encompassing hundreds of suspects.
Such cases include the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases against secularist critics and the Tahşiye case against conservative individuals seen as threats. In the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases, the 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 the 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 by a comprehensive offensive to rid the state of FETÖ presence, suspending thousands of known FETÖ suspects from the judiciary and police. FETÖ-linked businesses, educational institutions and NGOs were also targeted at this time.
The military coup attempt on July 15, 2015 that claimed 251 lives was the final try by FETÖ to take over the state.
For two years, he regularly attended meetings at the home of his FETÖ contact. "We prayed and read books written by Fetullah Gülen. One day, the imam responsible for all of us [Identified as M.A.D], opened an Excel file. It contained a list of all the military personnel at our base. He asked us information about each officer, their political affiliations, whether they drank alcohol or not, whether they were womanizers. He was especially interested in whether they were Alevis or not. Alevi soldiers were called the 'A Team.' I told him whether they smoked or drank. I also identified who was married and who was single. Such information gathering was done individually. I was told to leave the room whenever someone else entered."
The responsibility for his cell was sometimes transferred from one FETÖ imam to another. "Each time, the imam's phone was written on a paper. I kept the number in my wallet. The last two digits would be the difference of the original with 99. So, if the last two digits were 51, it would be written 48. We would never record the number in our phones. We were told to call only from landlines."
The noncommissioned officer said he has had no contact with FETÖ since 2014, when he realized how toxic the group was. "I wish I was killed when my helicopter was shot with ground fire in the southeast. At least then I would be a martyr, rather than being accused as a traitor."