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44 arrested in ops against FETÖ infiltrators in Turkish army

Security forces arrested 44 suspects and were searching for 20 others in separate operations against the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) on Tuesday. The suspects are accused of infiltrating the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), while some among them were handlers for infiltrators.

The biggest operation was based in the western province of Izmir where the Chief Prosecutor’s Office issued arrest warrants for 47 people, and 31 were arrested. Police raided several locations in the province and 15 other provinces to apprehend the suspects.

Among the captured and wanted suspects were 27 serving officers and four former/retired officers from the army’s Land Forces, navy, air forces and gendarmerie forces and 16 former military cadets who were expelled from schools on suspicion of their affiliation with FETÖ. They were identified through their contacts with other FETÖ members by public payphones, a commonly employed method of the terrorist group, which ran a meticulous scheme of infiltration of the army for decades, according to investigations. The suspects were of various ranks, including a colonel and 28 noncommissioned officers, along with two specialist sergeants.

Elsewhere, prosecutors in the central province of Konya issued arrest warrants for 17 suspects in an investigation into FETÖ’s secret military network. So far, 13 suspects were detained during the operations in Konya and 14 other provinces.

FETÖ has been under intense scrutiny since the July 15, 2016 coup attempt its infiltrators in the army carried out. The Ministry of National Defense announced earlier this month that 24,387 members of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) were sacked since the coup attempt for possible ties to the group, while administrative inquiries are underway for 781 others.

The terrorist group, which had infiltrators in law enforcement, the judiciary and the bureaucracy, still has backers in the army ranks, though they managed to disguise their loyalty, as operations and investigations since the coup attempt indicated. According to an investigation by Istanbul's Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which was made public in December 2020, the terrorist group began infiltrating the TSK more than four decades ago. Based on a report prepared by the Gendarmerie General Command, the report says 22 of the 239 students who graduated from military schools between the 1970s and 1990s were charged with involvement in the 2016 coup attempt, while 58 others were investigated for being a member of FETÖ following the failed putsch bid. While the students discharged from military schools could not continue carrying out their missions in the army, they still aided FETÖ's attempts by offering insight into the military's workings and playing an "active role" in establishing the hidden network inside the TSK, the report says.

FETÖ is led by Fetullah Gülen, who currently lives in the United States and is implicated in a long list of trials against the terrorist group./DS

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