The number of arrests in an investigation into the Gülenist Terror Group's (FETÖ) secret network in the military rose to 184 yesterday after authorities launched a nationwide operation to capture 271 suspects. Twelve suspects agreed to collaborate with authorities and confess their work for the group in exchange for a lighter sentence. The courts will decide now whether they provided tangible evidence for FETÖ's crimes in order to grant them release or not.
Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office issued arrest warrants for the suspects last week, the interrogation of 21 captured suspects have been completed so far. Suspects include a retired general and 122 serving soldiers while the others are those who were dismissed earlier for suspected links to FETÖ or those who retired from their posts earlier. The suspects were detected by authorities who uncovered their connections to FETÖ's point men through payphones. Veiled in a high level of secrecy to avoid capture, FETÖ members are known to employ payphones rather than smartphones or other traceable means of communications, for contact between point men and infiltrators.
The terrorist group is accused of carrying out the July 15, 2016 coup attempt that killed 250 people. The attempt was the work of military officers loyal to FETÖ, prosecutors say they acted upon orders of FETÖ's "imams" or handlers of military infiltrators on behalf of senior cadres of the group. Tens of thousands of people were detained or arrested in the wake of the coup attempt while trials of hundreds involved in the attempt are still underway.
Two years after the coup attempt was foiled thanks to strong public resistance, Turkey struggles to navigate its way through the murky network of Gülenists everywhere, from judiciary to law enforcement and the military. Although many were caught red-handed on the coup night, many concealed members of the group are still free according to authorities. Operations are being carried out almost daily to hunt down FETÖ members. A remorse law in effect that offers a lenient sentence and in some cases, early release from custody, helps police and prosecutors crack down on the terrorist group.