The Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) had a hidden agenda from the start, Deputy Justice Minister Yakup Moğul stated Saturday, stressing the terrorist group aimed to establish a new political, economic and social order by changing the country's constitutional makeup.
FETÖ is an atypical, armed terrorist group that exploits people's religious sentiments, Moğul said at a roundtable press briefing in the metropolis of Istanbul.
As an organization that "hides its true purpose with educational, social and religious services, FETÖ has infiltrated the most critical institutions of the state under the guise of legality," said Mogul.
"While typical terrorist organizations aim to increase their power and human resources with the method of force and intimidation, FETÖ has acted in secrecy and adopted a method of infiltrating all state institutions under a legal guise," Mogul said, adding that even before the 2016 putsch, FETÖ had been defined as a "Parallel State Structure."
Turkey this year commemorated the fifth anniversary of the thwarted coup attempt by FETÖ, which left 251 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured, with events planned across the country, including in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara.
FETÖ was behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and the judiciary. The Turkish government remains more determined than ever to suppress the putschists' coup aspirations, opposing any rhetoric implying otherwise.
The Interior Ministry last month stated that 135,916 operations targeting FETÖ have taken place since July 15, resulting in 312,121 arrests.
An unknown number of Gülenists, mostly high-ranking figures, fled Turkey when the coup attempt was thwarted. A large number of Gülenists had already left the country before the coup attempt when Turkish prosecutors started investigating the group's other crimes in the 2010s.
Despite Turkey's extradition requests and bilateral legal agreements, many FETÖ members still enjoy their lives in different countries around the world. In the aftermath of the coup attempt, Turkey has sped up extradition processes for FETÖ members abroad. The United States, where FETÖ's fugitive head Fethullah Gülen resides, has been the target of most extradition requests. Turkey has sent several extradition requests for Gülen to Washington so far, but unfortunately, it has seen little progress.
Moğul noted that the "real identity of the organization" became a topic of public conversation after certain plots came to light. These include the 2012 crisis surrounding Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT), in which police chiefs and prosecutors affiliated with the terrorist group sought to take over the MIT by launching a sham investigation against it, issues stemming from FETÖ-run private tutoring centers and the "unlawful Dec. 17-25 investigations," which were a precursor to the 2016 coup attempt.
Pro-FETÖ prosecutors and police officers devised a "graft probe" against top government officials to overthrow Turkey's elected government and launched a large-scale raid on Dec. 17-25, 2013, detaining prominent figures.
While executing such plots, FETÖ felt the need to develop an encrypted messaging app called ByLock, which it used from 2014 to March 2016 to ensure confidential communication among its members, explained Mogul.