Turkey's top officials late on Thursday announced their decision to take action against the "parallel state structures" – a term used for the Gülen Movement's infiltration into state institutions – and illegal networks that threaten national security. The National Security Council (MGK), Turkey's top national security group, which includes President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Cabinet ministers, said in a written statement that measures would be taken to combat these networks. "The fight against "parallel structures" and all other illegal formations, which assume a legal posture, both domestic and foreign, will be maintained with determination," the statement said.
U.S.-based controversial imam, Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the movement, had previously made controversial statements regarding the MGK. During a televised interview shortly after the coup of Feb. 28, 1997, Gülen backed the authoritarian decisions of the MGK against conservative and religious groups. He defined the MGK as an "ijtihad" body – a term that is recognized as the decision-making process in Islamic law through personal effort. "Even if it [MGK] makes mistakes, it's counted as a good deed," he said during the interview. Gülen's army's praising of statements and backing of the coup was interpreted as a step to protect his followers' posts in the state apparatus.
The Gülen Movement is seen as a national threat by the government since it was accused of wiretapping thousands of people including Turkish government officials, encrypting phones and allegedly infiltrating state institutions with the aim of overthrowing the government.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan previously said that the movement will be included in the Red Book and that fighting against the organization through lawful means will be one of Ankara's priorities. On Oct. 19, during his visit to Kabul, Erdoğan said, "All these national security threats will constitute the agenda of our MGK meeting this month," and added, "If it takes place on the recommendations list and Turkey's Cabinet adopts the position, the threat can enter into Turkey's National Security Policy Document."
Despite denials by members of the Gülen Movement of the allegations of wiretapping and attempting a coup, they claim they are only seeking justice by not raising their voice. Some previous members of the movement find this effort of denial insincere.
Hüseyin Gülerce, previously a columnist at the pro-Gülen newspaper, Zaman, and previously a well-known figure of the movement, slammed the organization. He said that nobody should be convinced, including himself, that the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 operations were corruption investigations. "Feb. 7 was the declaration of a war," said Gülerce.
The Council also addressed the recent attacks of the PKK. "The reconciliation process, maintained within the scope of a multi-dimensional struggle with terrorism, was also discussed." The reconciliation process refers to the Turkish government's efforts launched early last year to secure an end to the decades-long conflict with the outlawed PKK, which has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people. PKK attacks have included the killing of three Turkish soldiers and one sergeant in the southeastern provinces of Hakkari and Diyarbakır last week, and the hijacking of about 400 kilograms of explosives from a private coal mine in the southeastern Şırnak province Monday. Turkey, the U.S. and EU list the PKK as a terrorist organization.