Circle tightens around FETÖ across globe despite US-EU indifference

NUR ÖZKAN ERBAY
ISTANBUL
Published 03.05.2019 00:28

The legal circle is getting tightened for the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) around the world despite some European countries and United States' partial and inconsistent stance over the terror organization continuing. This week, the U.S. State Department issued the annual report on religious freedoms in other countries including Turkey. Considering Washington's deceptive manner regarding FETÖ since the coup attempt took place on July 15, 2016, which killed 251 people and injured nearly 2,200, the Turkey part of the conclusion section was not shocking at all. When we take a closer look, the report suggested that the leader and members of FETÖ, led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gülen, are a so-called "religious minority" in Turkey and it defined them as an "oppressed small religious group."

As expected, the Turkish Foreign Ministry responded harshly to the report, saying that it contained distorted facts and purposely overlooks FETÖ terror.

Especially the definition of FETÖ as an "oppressed small religious minority" is quite a bizarre point in the report, since most of the organization members either had been in on the very act of violence on the night of July 15th or confessed their participation to the coup attempt during ongoing trials.

Another distortion over the definition of FETÖ in the report also contradicts the fact that the organization is a hierarchically organized international network and its leader, Gülen, has absolute command and direct control over its entire structure.

Omitting the fact that it is a proven secretive and clandestine network, FETÖ's operational and financial activities around the world are beyond a "small religious minority" in Turkey.

There is a phrase in English which says "Don't kid a kidder." Perhaps it would be fooling Washington to ask how many Gülenist administrated schools and associations exist in the U.S and how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) carries out occasional investigations over the terror group. Under these circumstances, it is quite difficult to take this report seriously.

It is a fact that there is no common and objective definition of terrorism accepted by all and this division originated mostly because of the states' engagement with those terrorism-related organizations. As the latest U.S. government report differentiates FETÖ as a "religious minority" rather than a terrorist group that has shown apparent symptoms to use acts of violence as a tool to spread its political message.

Meanwhile, there are many countries which can recognize the real face and agenda of FETÖ. The most current example is Pakistan's government declaring the FETÖ-linked organization, Pak-Turk International CAG Education Foundation (PTICEF), as a terror outfit in the country. The country's Interior Ministry issued the notification on April 18, after the top court's aforementioned verdict.

Despite the review petitions which were appealed and sponsored by FETÖ linked organizations in the U.S. and EU, Pakistan's Supreme Court made its final decision to designate the PTICEF as terrorist organization under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

With this decision, the court also ruled that the control of 76 educational institutions, 26 campuses where 12,000 students get an education across Pakistan that are being run by the PTICEF should be handed to the Turkey Maarif Foundation.

Speaking to Daily Sabah, Metin Çelik from the Maarif Foundation in Ankara said that the decision is the result of intensive efforts of the Pakistani government, the Turkish Parliament and other institutions.

Pointing out Pakistan Supreme Court's decision on April 16, Çelik stated that this is the final decision which cannot be reversed. "This result has also shown how FETÖ was managing money laundering to finance their terror-related activities by using the schools as a cover" Çelik added.

So the latest developments in Pakistan can be taken as precedent for other countries, especially as there are still active FETÖ-affiliated schools in 75 countries as Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in the Parliament on Tuesday.

So far, in 22 countries the schools affiliated with FETÖ were terminated and 18 countries handed over the schools to the Maarif Foundation. Also, Turkey has signed further protocols with 38 countries to take over those schools in their countries.

However, some 250 other FETÖ-affiliated schools are still located in European countries along with the U.S. and Australia. Despite significant public pressure on FETÖ-affiliated schools around the world, it is quite gripping to see when Western allies will follow the same path as Pakistan and many others. Perhaps, it will take time on whether they start to see the real face of the organization or insist that it is a "small religious minority group."

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