FETÖ suspects facilitating army infiltration arrested

Published 02.10.2019 00:33

Eleven officers who worked at military hospitals and are linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) were arrested in operations yesterday for helping the terrorist group infiltrate into the army.

The Chief Prosecutor's Office in Istanbul issued arrest warrants for 17 suspects in the probe, and operations were underway to capture other suspects. The suspects are accused of preparing false health reports for cadets at Kuleli, a prestigious military school in Istanbul, and leading to their expulsion from the school. Authorities believe that the terrorist group's military infiltrators falsely issued reports deeming cadets unfit for military service and helping other cadets linked to the group attend the military school. Ali Pehlivan, a military intelligence officer linked to FETÖ, confessed to investigators in another investigation that he worked for the terrorist group to expel military school cadets in order to replace them with those aligned with the terror cult.

Pehlivan, dismissed from the army and arrested following the July 15, 2016 coup attempt blamed on FETÖ, was working in an intelligence unit of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).

He confessed that during his tenure as an instructor at a boot camp in the western city of İzmir, he was ordered by his superior to "eliminate" those not aligned with FETÖ. "My superior gave me a list of 12 cadets. ‘These guys are not good; they should not be allowed to graduate from the school,' he told me. He said I should find their faults, be it an untidy bed or something minor, and repeatedly punish them. I did not understand at first but when I started getting to know the cadets, I realized it was because those cadets were not sympathetic to [FETÖ leader Fetullah] Gülen or his followers," he said.

The cadets endured bullying from their superiors but the next year, Pehlivan says they dropped out of the school or received low grades. A separate indictment into FETÖ's activities at military schools says the terrorist group, through its infiltrators working as administrators or instructors at those schools, turned to hazing to force the military cadets into submission or to eliminate those opposing them. The terrorist group is known for its widespread infiltration into the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and is accused of preventing others from rising up the ranks.

Also in yesterday's operations, prosecutors in the central city of Konya ordered the arrests of 50 suspects, including active-duty soldiers, in an investigation into FETÖ's network in the army. Forty-four were arrested. In the capital Ankara, prosecutors ordered the arrests of 20 suspects, including nine active-duty soldiers accused of being members of FETÖ's network in the Turkish Air Forces. The suspects were identified through their phone contact with FETÖ's civilian handlers.

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