Nine suspects were arrested Tuesday in operations against military infiltrators of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). Prosecutors in the western city of İzmir had earlier issued arrest warrants for 18 suspects, including former and serving military officers over their suspected links to FETÖ. Police carried out operations in nine cities to capture the suspects.
Suspects were identified through their contact with FETÖ members via payphones. They included those dismissed from the army over suspicion of association with FETÖ or those resigned from the army. Two among the suspects were civilian "imams," a term used for FETÖ's handlers for its military infiltrators.
The terrorist group and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen are behind the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which killed 251 people and injured nearly 2,200 others. Turkey accuses the group of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary. Since the 2016 coup attempt, prosecutors have found that nearly 14,500 people used payphones to communicate with the senior members of FETÖ. Around 13,500 of them were arrested in over 800 operations across the country. Some 5,000 of the detainees have been remanded in custody, while nearly 8,500 suspects were released, including those under judicial control.
The terrorist group often resorts to this method of communications to relay the messages of high-ranking members of the terrorist group to infiltrators. Authorities say the group's handlers contacted infiltrators via calls from payphones at regular intervals and arranged secret meetings with them.