Security forces on Friday detained 62 suspects, including military officers, for their links to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the group behind the 2016 coup attempt, while a gaming app modified to be used as a secret messaging tool by Gülenists was discovered.
Nationwide operations to capture the rest of the 140 suspects with outstanding arrest warrants in two separate cases were underway when Daily Sabah went to print.
In one case, the Chief Prosecutor's Office in the central city of Konya issued detention warrants for 70 on-duty soldiers and police, capturing 44 in operations in 34 provinces. The warrants were issued after military officers linked to the terrorist group captured in earlier operations provided the names of other secret FETÖ members in the army. Some among the detained officers were those controlled by FETÖ's so-called "secret imams" who serve as handlers and point men for the terrorist group's secret followers. Secret imams were captured in earlier operations. The suspects detained on Friday were those recruited in their youth by the terrorist group. Investigators say they were recruited by the group while they were still in middle school and high school and were housed in student houses run by the group where they were brainwashed to remain loyal. State-run Anadolu Agency (AA) reported that they were among select cadres of the terrorist group with "a high level of devotion," members who would not question the orders of their superiors in FETÖ. Some suspects are "brothers" or handlers for military cadets loyal to the terrorist group.
Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's office also issued detention warrants for 70 suspects in an investigation into FETÖ's secret network of infiltrators in the navy. Suspects include on-duty soldiers and their "imams." Eighteen suspects were detained in operations. The investigation also uncovered a secret, encrypted messaging app accessible through a clone of 2048, a popular puzzle game available in online app stores. The app was first discovered in possession of E.K., a teacher who served as a FETÖ point man for terrorist group's infiltrators in the navy. E.K. is also a ByLock user according to investigators. ByLock was the main encrypted messaging app exclusively used and believed to have been developed by FETÖ before authorities uncovered and intercepted millions of messages written by FETÖ members. The terrorist group widely used ByLock, particularly to relay messages from the group's fugitive leader Fetullah Gülen to followers. Decoded ByLock messages have also provided clues on how the terrorist group spoke about "a coup" months before the July 15 coup attempt claimed the lives of 250 people.
Authorities also uncovered digital documents in E.K.'s possession that showed where all FETÖ-linked officers were stationed and the names of the handlers for each soldier as well as infiltrators "picked" for infiltrating into certain units of the army. Documents also contain addresses of the group's safe houses and getaway routes for fugitive members.
FETÖ is accused of activating its infiltrators in the military, from low-ranking officers to generals, to seize power in the summer of 2016 ahead of a planned crackdown on its infiltrators.
Though they managed to seize several places throughout the night of July 15, calls by the country's leaders to the public thwarted their efforts as people all across the country openly confronted and intimidated the plotters, costing some their lives.
Upon the unprecedented reaction, the majority of the putschists laid down their arms, while some managed to flee. Thousands involved in the coup bid have been arrested and tried since. In more than 105 coup trials concluded so far, more than 800 defendants have received prison sentences. More than 592 of those defendants, mostly high-ranking officers, were sentenced to life.
FETÖ is known for its widespread infiltration in the judiciary, law enforcement, military and bureaucracy. Through its followers in the judiciary, it is accused of orchestrating sham trials to imprison its critics or anyone it deemed an obstacle to its interests. After expanding its clout, it sought to topple the government, first in 2013.