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Why do Turks believe Gülen is behind the coup attempt?

Even a single tangible step to be taken by the U.S. government in the extradition process of the cult leader Gülen is likely to put strained Turkey-U.S. relations back on track

The second anniversary of the July 15 coup attempt was commemorated by millions who gathered in squares in all 81 provinces of Turkey. According to surveys, 85 to 90 percent of Turkish people agree that the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) was behind the coup attempt. This conviction is not based on a conspiracy theory, but rather based on the fact that society bore witness to all stages of the atrocity. However, a number of documents constitute the ground of this consensus, which also comprise the articles included in the file issued to the U.S. authorities.

The main center of the attempted coup was the Akıncı Air Base. In the morning following the coup attempt, a total of 30 civilians were found on this base, where the jets that pounded the Parliament, the National Intelligence Organization, Special Operations Center and Presidential Complex took off from. One of these civilians was Adil Öksüz, who was a FETÖ imam in charge of the terror group’s operations within the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). Until then, Öksüz’s senior position in FETÖ was completely unknown. Even his sympathy towards FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen was not noted. He was known as an ordinary theology professor teaching at a university. After facts about him were unveiled, a video showing Öksüz kneeling before Gülen leaked to the media.

Also, footage obtained from Akıncı Air Base showed high-ranking military officers such as brigadier generals making a soldier salute to the “TSK imam” Öksüz and “Land Forces imam” Kemal Batmaz, who was only known as a real estate agent until then. In addition, the footage obtained from an airport showed Öksüz and Batmaz flying in to the city where Gülen resided in the U.S., on July 11, and returning to Turkey two days before the coup attempt.

A U.S. document provided by Homeland Security to Turkish officials confirmed that Kemal Batmaz stayed in FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen’s residence in the U.S., six and a half months before the July 15 coup attempt. According to the document, time stamped Jan. 1, 2016, Batmaz told American officials questioning him at New Jersey’s Newark Airport in the U.S. that he “will stay with Imam Muhammed Fetullah Gülen in Pennsylvania” during his visit to the country.However, Batmaz told the prosecutor’s office on Oct. 18, 2016 that he did not know Gülen personally but knows him from the media: “I started to see the Fetullah Gülen movement as a [terror] organization by the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015 […] Therefore, Fetullah Gülen is the leader of a terrorist organization, and a terrorist,” he had stated.

Turkish people do not believe such prevarications as they are already familiar with the lies and manipulation skills of FETÖ members. Considering that Batmaz claimed that he was not in Akıncı Air Base on the night of the coup attempt even when he was shown footage of the soldiers saluting him, can illustrate the extent of denial and deception FETÖ operatives engage in.

Also, it was revealed that the three people who tried to sneak away from the state-run TV broadcaster TRT, which was occupied by pro-coup troops that night, were senior employees of a company named Sürat Technologies, known to be owned by a group of FETÖ adherents. Also, former police chief Mithat Aynacı, who has been known for his affiliations with Gülen, was apprehended in the tank that attacked the Security Directorate Office in Istanbul. A night before the coup attempt, a former military officer named Tuncay Opçin who has not concealed his loyalty to Gülen wrote: “We will raid their beds and hang them at dawn.”

Further details corroborating the above mentioned points can be listed. But what really matters is that it is indisputable for people paying attention to the facts, that Gülenist military officers and FETÖ operatives who infiltrated state apparatuses had a role in the coup attempt. The U.K. Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee report issued in 2017 also acknowledges this.According to the extradition agreement between Turkey and the U.S., the party requesting extradition is required to detain the demanded person even though the extradition could not be carried out, as long as all the necessary documents and evidence are submitted. The U.S. has to keep Gülen under police supervision that would preclude his communication channels with the terror group even if it refuses to extradite Gülen. In this case, the recovery process of strained Turkey-U.S. relations will be faster and the rising anti-U.S. stance among Turkish people, which is the natural consequence of all these incidents, can be restrained.

Source: Daily Sabah

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About the author

Hilal Kaplan

Hilal Kaplan

Hilal Kaplan is a political commentator, a columnist for Sabah and other news publishers. She's based in Istanbul, Turkey.

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