"You only have to prove that you are a Gülenist," a member of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), who confessed to his role as a point man in the group, says, as a way to get a residence permit in Germany. The testimony of E.Ş., an "imam" (point man) for FETÖ's infiltrators in the military, revealed the group's tactics to flee abroad after the 2016 putsch attempt it carried out in Turkey.
E.Ş. was recently captured in Istanbul and invoked a remorse law that allows captured terror suspects to receive lenient sentences in return for turning state's evidence. He told the interrogators that having a passport was sufficient to travel to any European countries once a member of the group arrives in Greece. "Currently, there are some 1,000 [FETÖ members] in Greece and there is a unit overseeing crossings [by the members to Greece and other European countries]. They help those arriving from Turkey and direct them to countries like Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway. If a member doesn't have a passport, they provide forged ones," he said. The confessing member also noted that one only has to tell the authorities that he or she is "a Gülenist" to receive residence permit in Germany. "Germany gives them up to 130 euros monthly before they receive residence permits and they receive 300 euros once they receive the permit," he claimed.
The suspect's testimony also highlights how the terrorist group "discriminates" between its poor and rich members. "Those with better financial status are advised to flee abroad and the poor members are directed to safe houses in Turkey," he said.
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. The group is also 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, killing 250 people opposing the coup in the process.
After the putsch bid was foiled, FETÖ faced a heightened crackdown. In the first two weeks of this month only, the authorities captured 1,034 suspected members of the group and operations are underway almost on a daily basis. The group's senior cadres, including its leader Fetullah Gülen, live in the United States or fled there after the foiled putsch attempt. The rest with outstanding arrest warrants try to flee to Europe. They mostly seek land crossings into Greece via the Turkish border province of Edirne.
E.Ş. says Germany in particular is a safe haven for fugitive Gülenists who can "even find jobs in public schools as teachers." Escaping prosecution for links to the coup attempt and FETÖ, more than 600 military officers and civil servants from Turkey are believed to have applied for asylum in Germany since the coup attempt, according to figures released by the German Interior Ministry last October. A senior figure of the group in Germany told the German media last year that the European Union country will become "a new center" for the group. Ankara condemned Berlin's decision to accept the asylum applications of former military personnel last year. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Germany has shown disregard for democratic principles by welcoming coup perpetrators.