Becoming more secretive since a heightened crackdown, the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) turned to a new encrypted smartphone-messaging app, security forces discovered. The app, Justnote, was discovered in the cellphones of FETÖ members captured in the central Turkish province of Çorum last week. The suspects were part of a new network the terrorist group established after an intense crackdown in the wake of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. FETÖ is blamed for carrying out the coup attempt through its military infiltrators that killed 251 people.
Media outlets reported that the app, believed to have been developed in Germany where one of the suspects caught in the operations lived, needed the installation of "special" software for access and was heavily encrypted. It is not available in online application stores. One key feature of the app is that messages delete themselves after the recipient reads them.
FETÖ, known for its secretive methods of communication, utilized everything from in-game chats in mobile games to payphones to convey messages between its members. ByLock is the most well known app used by FETÖ members, and its use was discovered before the 2016 coup attempt. Authorities deciphered ByLock messages, revealing secret messages pointing to an imminent coup in operations after the putsch bid. The Interior Ministry announced that 4,676 new ByLock users were detected through an investigation that had already identified more than 95,000 users. More than 79,337 people faced legal charges in ByLock investigations. Media reports say police intelligence staff linked to the terrorist group were behind the app. FETÖ-linked staff members 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 worked to decode them. Investigations point out that the app was one of the most commonly employed means of communication in the secretive group.