Turkish prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 32 people with suspected links to Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which is accused of being behind a coup attempt in 2016 that killed 251 people.
The warrants were issued yesterday as part of a probe into the terrorist group’s clandestine network in the Turkish Armed Forces. The suspects are accused of communicating with “secret imams,” handlers for the group’s military infiltrators, via payphones. Some 17 of the suspects were active-duty officers in the Turkish Armed Forces. The suspects also include two secret imams of FETÖ.
In addition, Turkish prosecutors issued arrest warrants for eight FETÖ-linked suspects in simultaneous operations held in the provinces of Ağrı, Istanbul, Bursa, Samsun, Malatya, Şanlıurfa, Mardin, Bitlis and Muş.
Security forces arrested the suspects, including four prison wardens, a teacher and three civilians, accused of being members of the terrorist group and using phone lines used by senior level members of FETÖ. Some 251 people were killed and 2,200 others were injured when military officers affiliated with the group staged a coup bid on July 15, 2016, its third attempt to topple the government. A state of emergency after the coup attempt saw tens of thousands of people detained or arrested. Although the state of emergency was later lifted, operations against FETÖ continue across Turkey almost on a daily basis.
The terrorist group is known for its widespread infiltration of the army, law enforcement, judiciary and bureaucracy. It first attempted to overthrow the government in 2013 with its infiltrators in the judiciary and the Turkish National Police. It failed, and the group faced increased scrutiny. When the news broke that the military was preparing to launch a mass purge of FETÖ-linked officers in August 2016, the group moved to prevent it with the coup attempt. Strong public resistance ultimately stopped the coup, and the coup’s ringleaders, including generals, were arrested.