A new wave of nationwide operations targeting members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) was launched Tuesday. Dozens of suspects were detained while operations were underway to detain more. The operations seek to quell the group's ambitions to maintain its clout despite a massive crackdown following FETÖ's July 15, 2016 coup attempt. The coup attempt was a turning point in the fight against the group, which employed its infiltrators in the military to try to overthrow the government after two failed attempts to do so in 2013. Turkey declared a state of emergency following the attempt that killed 251 people and arrested or detained tens of thousands of suspects for links to the terrorist group.
In yesterday's operations, prosecutors in the western city of İzmir, where FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen made a name for himself as an influential preacher in 1970's, issued arrest warrants for 41 suspects. The suspects included 29 active-duty soldiers who were contacted by FETÖ's "secret imams," a name given to the group's handlers for its infiltrators in the military, law enforcement, judiciary and bureaucracy. Security forces raided several locations in İzmir, Istanbul, the capital Ankara, Adana, Eskişehir, Balıkesir, Kocaeli, Konya, Kayseri, Erzurum, Ardahan, Manisa and Aydın to capture the suspects. The operations were part of a wider investigation into FETÖ's secretive communication methods with its infiltrators. A probe following the coup attempt in 2016 has revealed that military infiltrators were contacted by their FETÖ handlers through payphones to avoid detection. In the southern province of Adana, the chief prosecutor's office issued arrest warrants for 59 former police officers who were earlier dismissed from duty for their suspected links to the terrorist group. An unknown number of suspects were detained when Daily Sabah went to print.
In Kocaeli, a northwestern city known as an industrial hub and home to facilities of Turkey's top state-run science body TÜBİTAK, prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 15 suspects in what prosecutors called FETÖ's "TÜBİTAK cadres." Police launched simultaneous operations in six cities to capture the suspects. TÜBİTAK was one of the public institutions infiltrated by FETÖ. In another investigation based in the central city of Konya, prosecutors sought the arrest of 80 suspects, mostly "secret imams" for the terrorist group's military infiltrators. Sixteen suspects have been detained so far. The suspects were identified based on testimonies of FETÖ members arrested in earlier counterterrorism operations.
Elsewhere, 22 out of 32 wanted suspects were captured in the southern city of Gaziantep and other cities in a probe into the group's military infiltrators. In the capital Ankara, 63 out of 102 suspects were arrested for their links to FETÖ. They include former staff of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), the national intelligence agency (MİT), several ministries and a public university. Suspects were users of ByLock, an encrypted messaging app developed and exclusively used by FETÖ members. Twenty-three other ByLock users were detained in operations ordered by prosecutors in the northern city of Zonguldak. Police also detained 25 suspects linked to the group in an operation ordered by the chief prosecutor's office in the province of Adıyaman.