For a fight against the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ), which attempted to stage a coup in the country on July 15, we need a comprehensive, long-term policy. Currently, with the measures stemming from the state of emergency, all state institutions have been mobilized to cleanse the members of this illegal organization.
The cadres and structures infiltrated in various institutions including the military, judiciary, education and health services, which intelligence units had already discovered over the last two years, are now being cleansed.
The cleansing of FETÖ elements from institutions is absolutely essential to guarantee the effective operation of state apparatuses.
The cleansing of these cadres, which were infiltrated both inside and outside of state apparatuses by means of all kinds of intrigue and unjust practices over the last 30 to 40 years, guarantees the future of the Turkish state and democracy in the country. Do not consider what the think tanks in the U.S. say. Some of them argue that these cleansings will create weakness in the Turkish military’s fight against DAESH and the PKK while others claim that the nuclear arsenal at İncirlik Air Base is not safe.
The cleansing of FETÖ elements from institutions is absolutely essential to guarantee the effective operation of state apparatuses. This implementation will also improve Turkey’s relations with its allies while aiding the counterterrorism fight.
The main aspect that must be emphasized is that FETÖ is not an ordinary terrorist organization. It is an exceptional structure with some religious claims organized both overtly and covertly while engaging in deep international lobbying and networks. It would not be realistic to expect the organization to dissolve in the short run.
Acting within the chain of command so far, FETÖ has entered a new phase after the failed coup attempt.
Even though the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 judicial coup attempts revealed that the organization poses a great security threat, the cadres occupied by Gülenists could not be discharged completely.
Taking courage from its structuring within the military and its civil society initiatives, the organization preferred to resist and counterattack.
The July 15 coup attempt is the most radical and violent assault from Fethullah Gülen, who tries to keep his disciples alive with a mystical and messianic kind of hope. With this assault, a group that was seen as moderate Muslims turned into a terrorist organization that ran over people with tanks and opened fire on them from helicopters. There are three critical aspects with respect to FETÖ’s dissolution in the near future: Dissolving the organization, decapitating its leadership and de-radicalizing its members.
Undoubtedly, the most important aspect is preventing Gülen’s leadership.
Decapitating the leadership is more effective in the struggle against organizations with religious concerns than with secular- or ethnicity-focused organizations.
For this reason, extraditing Gülen to Turkey is much more important than that of the PKK’s imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan.
Brainwashing his disciples with twisted religious discourse encompassing both the ephemeral world and the afterlife, Gülen must be stopped from instilling courage in his supporters to conduct new attacks.
Having rejected ties to the coup attempt in his first statements afterward, Gülen now suggests his disciples “stand upright” and that the international public is with them. He is trying to form a resistance that would meet their failure with patience.
It is also evident that the support the Gülenist diaspora enjoys in Western capitals contributes to this resistance. In my opinion, FETÖ members consist of two main groups of people: Those who have undergone intense brainwashing from their childhood and those recruited later in their lives.
It is highly possible for the older recruits to leave the organization giving confessions and expressing regrets after witnessing the frenzy of July 15. However, unless Gülen is taken hold of, people from the first group, who owe everything they have to the Gülen Movement, will continue to form new underground organizations.
The second critical aspect in the fight against FETÖ is the need to de-radicalize its members, which would readjust the religious views of the people discharged from public institutions.
Some preventative measures must be taken for the people whose semantic world collapsed and who are excluded from society. Their possible inclinations toward suicide or marginal individual attacks must be prevented. Nongovernmental organizations, the Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB) and religious movements will play a great role in that.
This article was first published in Daily Sabah on July 27, 2016.