Security forces in Afghanistan raided three schools run by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) on Friday and took over control.
Police entered the schools in Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat upon a court order and launched the takeover procedure amid protests by students. Afghan officials said the schools will be handed over to Turkey's Maarif Foundation as soon as possible. Afghanistan also plans to seize and hand over six out of 12 FETÖ-run schools in Kabul, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kandahar, Nangarhar and Jowzjan to the foundation, in the light of an agreement signed by Turkish and Afghan education ministries last year.
Turkey has asked several countries worldwide to shut down dozens of schools, colleges and businesses linked to the FETÖ network in the wake of the July 15 coup attempt. Afghanistan's neighbor Pakistan, another close ally of Turkey, has ordered the shutdown of schools in that country run by FETÖ and deported dozens of the schools' FETÖ-linked staff to Turkey.
FETÖ's U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen was the mastermind behind the foiled coup attempt in Turkey in 2016 that killed 251 people. Ankara says FETÖ is behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the Turkish state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary
The terrorist group is also known for operating hundreds of schools under the auspices of its network around the world. For decades, it disguised itself as a charity movement with religious undertones, opening schools, charities and companies on all continents. Through schools where children of the elite in the countries they operated are enrolled, the terrorist group extended its international clout, prosecutors investigating the international network say.
Turkey established the Maarif Foundation in 2016, following the coup attempt, to assume control of FETÖ-linked schools abroad.
Since its establishment, the foundation has made official contact with 90 countries, appointing directors to 40 of them. It currently runs 162 schools in 12 countries, including Niger, Chad, Somalia and Sudan. Some 94 FETÖ-linked schools, with more than 10,000 students, have been transferred to the Maarif Foundation with the help of the governments of the respective countries.