The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have dismissed some 19,203 personnel due to links with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which tried to seize power on July 15, 2016.
“The fight against FETÖ continues unwaveringly across institutions in light of new documents and information that have come to light. Since July 15, 2016, 19,203 personnel have been dismissed as part of investigations carried out to this end,” a TSK statement said Sunday.
The statement added that legal procedures remained ongoing for 5,035 personnel.
Tens of thousands have been arrested or detained since the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, which was thwarted thanks to strong public resistance. Subsequent investigations revealed a large network of FETÖ members in the military. Security forces still launch operations on an almost daily basis to hunt down suspected terrorist group members in the armed forces.
Long before it was designated a national security threat, FETÖ was pursuing a policy of infiltration in a myriad of government agencies, including the army, law enforcement, the judiciary and bureaucracy. Followers managed to rise to the top ranks while disguising their ties to the group, becoming generals in the army and senior police chiefs. Through its "imams," FETÖ kept in contact with its infiltrators and gave them orders. Their efforts to disguise themselves long prevented detection and only after their first coup attempt, in 2013, did investigations disclose their tactics. As FETÖ members have been identified, more have come forward to shed light on the group's plots, leading to additional arrests. Categorized for decades as a religious movement, FETÖ was a prominent group in Turkey, but investigations after the coup attempts revealed an extensive network of members that were hiding their allegiance, known as “mahrem,” or "secret" in Turkish.
Investigations following the coup attempt disclosed that military infiltrators of the terrorist group had used secretive communication methods to contact their handlers in FETÖ, such as payphones. To exert full control over an institution it infiltrates, FETÖ is known to expel those not aligned with its ideology.
FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen has lived in self-imposed exile on a 400-acre property in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania since 1999.