Gulenist cult as a global threat
The most complicated element of Turkey’s counterterrorism agenda is, of course, the Gulenist Terror Group (FETÖ). We know that FETÖ, which was established as a secret cult, aimed to seize the state from the beginning. The organization, which prioritized the infiltration of the military and police, established hegemony of totalitarian control and mobilization over its members. The ability of religiously assertive and organizational totalitarianism to pretend to serve education and civil society for a long time enabled it to reach out to many people. FETÖ’s internal rings worked like an intelligence and terrorist group while its external rings worked to create a positive public image. FETÖ is a new generation terrorist group with giant parallel organizations, strict believers, subcontracting in intelligence operations and acceptance of all kinds of efforts, regardless of how malicious they are, to achieve its goals. FETÖ manipulated domestic and foreign academic literature about itself as it raised its members within the military who would direct the state’s weapons against the nation. It used the education network it established around the world for economic interests, lobbying and intelligence activities. Although FETÖ lost its capacity to a significant extent at home due to Turkey’s struggle after the July 15 coup attempt, its anti-Turkey lobbying organization is active in nearly 160 countries, especially in Western capitals.
We know that FETÖ, which was established as a secret cult, aimed to seize the state from the beginning. The organization, which prioritized the infiltration of the military and police, established hegemony of totalitarian control and mobilization over its members.
FETÖ also has well-educated members who propagandize against Turkey in U.S. Congress in Washington, as well as elements that can provide staff for the secret operations by Gulf states and cooperate with other terrorist organizations. Due to its global aspect, it is necessary for the fight against FETÖ to be long term and multidimensional. It is essential to execute this struggle, which will last over the next decades, through a central structure. Moreover, it is an inadequate approach to regard the struggle against FETÖ as the task of security institutions alone. For instance, the Maarif foundation’s efforts to take over FETÖ schools in different countries by using Turkey’s capital are critical. In fact, one of the biggest shortcomings is in the field of academic studies. The issue cannot be weathered with panel discussions on July 15. Universities need to create a corpus from FETÖ’s internal and external dimensions for the de-radicalization of its members. Leading studies in this regard are currently being conducted by the Foundation for Political Economic and Social Research (SETA) and the Police Academy.
The title of this piece is the topic of an international symposium held by the Police Academy. At the symposium attended by 35 academics and journalists, a report prepared by the academy titled “Analysis of FETÖ, the New Generation Terrorism,” was presented. The present situation of FETÖ’s organization in the Caucasus and the rest of Russia, Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans and the rest of Europe and the Americas was discussed for three days. The symposium focused on the fact that many states regard FETÖ as a useful subcontractor today, emphasizing that FETÖ’s intelligence-operational aspect would actually lead it to be perceived as a global threat in the not-to-distant future. It was also explained that this organization’s structures that look to be civilian in nature do not work for the interests of the country where they are present, but are the means used for the influence of foreign powers. Undoubtedly, it is an obligation for Turkey to explain that non-Western countries that still provide space for FETÖ are vulnerable to foreign-imperial interventions. Let us conclude with several suggestions from the academy’s report: “The information should be collected in a single pool, a center to coordinate the struggle and a specialized law enforcement agency should be established, and a control mechanism should be developed to avoid the radicalization of relatives of those who have been dismissed from public service.”
This article was first published by Daily Sabah on November 28, 2017.