Sixteen suspects, alleged users of ByLock, an encrypted messaging app exclusively used and developed by Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), were captured in operations Wednesday. The suspects were wanted by the chief prosecutor's office in the capital Ankara and manhunt was underway to capture nine other suspects wanted by authorities in the same probe.
Investigations into ByLock started prior to the July 15, 2016 coup attempt by FETÖ's military infiltrators that led to a massive crackdown against the terrorist group. However, they gained significance after the attempt that killed 251 people. Authorities had deciphered messages revealing secret messages pointing to an imminent coup in operations after the putsch bid. The Interior Ministry has announced that 4,676 new ByLock users were detected in the investigation that already identified more than 95,000 users. More than 79,337 people faced legal process in ByLock investigations.
Media reports say police intelligence staff linked to the terrorist group were behind the app. The FETÖ-linked staff working in a powerful intelligence department of the Turkish National Police were the "architects" of the app, or rather its modification to serve the purposes of the group. A group of intelligence officers are accused of controlling the private app used to deliver FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen's messages to his followers, as well as to instruct the group's members on how to carry out plots against anti-Gülenists. Servers of the app deployed in Lithuania were brought to Turkey where teams from the intelligence service work to decode it. Investigations point out that the app was one of the most employed means of communication in the secretive group. Other encrypted messaging apps were used by FETÖ members after the authorities discovered ByLock's use.
The terrorist group, which evolved from a congregation of Fetullah Gülen's followers, is accused of pursuing a sinister agenda by posing as a religious group with an emphasis on charity work for years. Investigations have revealed that the group was planting its men and women in every institution since at least the 1980s, from the army to law enforcement, from the judiciary to the bureaucracy before its first coup attempts in 2013. Disguised with code names, secretive correspondences and a distinct secular lifestyle worlds away from what FETÖ promotes as religious life, its members easily infiltrated places they ultimately aimed to take over.
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