A heretical preacher’s coup attempt (Part-I)

By: ÇETİNER ÇETİN*   [N.B. MEO is publishing ÇETİNER ÇETİN’s article in two parts]


The true inside story of ‘heretical preacher and his followers’ which were carefully adhered to Turkey’s Islamist segment by the military coup of Sept. 12, 1980 came to light with the military coup attempt which failed on the night of July 15.  

Well, was it so difficult for everyone to recognize and understand the real purpose of this heretical preacher, whose identity name is Fethullah Gülen, and his followers. Definitely no. At this point, firstly all political parties in Turkey must set to work with self-criticism and intraparty liquidation.

What is FETO?

In fact, the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization, also known as FETÖ, is an illegitimate child that the military coup of Sept. 12, 1980 forcibly adhered to Islamist and conservative segments. Until Dec. 17, 2013, which is imprinted in minds as the first coup attempt aimed at President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, this organization managed to force all governments and opposition parties in Turkey to make all concessions it wanted, so much so that even leftist governments smoothed the way for it to the full extent. All concessions made the heretical preacher and his followers strong not only on national, but also on international platform. When it came to the mid 1980s, the heretical preacher and his followers winked at politics. During early 1990s, they achieved a strength that was determinative in Turkish politics, that even had a significant place among political parties and that designed the politics. As of 1988, they started clandestinely infiltrating the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in a systematic way.

The heretical preacher was literally assigned to fill the gaps created by the military coup of Sept. 12 in education and social life. Instead of filling these gaps, politicians and bureaucrats fooled around and literally competed with each other to appreciate Gülen. In fact, they turned a deaf ear to warnings about Gülen. This is how the inexorable rise of heretical preacher started.


Another important task that was assigned to the heretical preacher of Sept. 12 was to recruit other Islamist groups in Turkey which strove to exist through great self-abnegation and limited resources. This objective paved the way for Gülen to access bureaucracy apart from the politics. From former President Turgut Özal’s period to Dec. 17, 2013, FETÖ was organized within the state not secretly, but overtly. From the moment when this structure, which is defined as the illegitimate child of Sept. 12, seized this enormous power in politics and bureaucracy, it started acting with the motto that “All means are permissible to carry out Hizmet.” Hizmet is a self-styled definition of FETÖ meaning “Service.” As such, on the one hand it tried to take part in the radius of action of secular and liberal segments in Turkey, and on the other, it made all other Islamist groups almost invisible in the society by blackmailing them, declaring them to be heretics and the puppets of foreign powers, and declaring theie life styles as “superstitious.” A number of talented people in the bureaucracy hailing from various Islamic traditions were discharged through FETÖ’s blackmailing.


The heretical preacher and his followers made the best of the postmodern coup of Feb. 28, 1997, which went down in Turkish political history as a disgrace. They lost nothing as they did on Sept. 12. The heretical preacher, whose educational life does not go beyond five-year primary school education, said “headscarf is a detail” and gave a fatwa to female students to take off their headscarves to enter universities in a period when even leftist groups harshly reacted to headscarf ban. Moreover, it was a FETÖ-affiliated university first practicing this ban which the military forcibly imposed on the government. As such, FETÖ played its part very successfully and it won once again while Islamist segment was greatly victimized. The military, politicians, as well as secular and liberal factions, presented Gülen as an acceptable Muslim. So, they offered an opportunity to drag the country into a dark corridor either voluntarily or consciously. FETÖ was greatly supported by Democratic Left Party (DSP) leader and former prime minister Bülent Ecevit through this political attitude and Ecevit enabled 61 FETÖ affiliates to enter Parliament from his party.


During the period that started with Süleyman Demirel succeeding to presidency after Özal’s sudden death, the heretical preacher and his followers supported Tansu Çiller against İsmet Sezgin, who was supported by Demirel and traditional figures in the True Path Party (DYP), and played a great role in Çiller becoming prime minister. In this period, the Gülenist community founded Bank Asya where it would launder the illicit money it obtained from ambiguous resources. It was the years when idealist mafia was hand in glove with Gülen and they together posed for the cameras. It was also the years when 61 leading figures of Kurdish mafia, including Behçet Cantürk, Savaş Buldan and Hacı Karay, were killed. Gülenists were organized rapidly in both legal and illegal spheres. Drug trafficking in eastern and southeastern Turkey was seized by those who appeared on the same photo frames with Gülen. The Police Special Operations (PÖH) unit, which was founded during Özal’s period and which was dominated by Turkish nationalists, was submitted to FETÖ during Çiller’s period. The period of unidentified murders that started in this way still remains a mystery.

The heretical preacher who seized the state became a winning party in all conditions through his organization within the state. Businessmen were forced to pay tribute to FETÖ under the name of “himmet” (donation) from the tenders they won. Courts derailed from justice. Those who could establish relations with FETÖ were acquitted in return for himmets. It became a tradition to give significant himmets to FETÖ in order to gain a footing in state echelons. Tradesmen were forced to join the meetings of Gülen’s followers and pay himmets in order to avoid exclusion and the wrath of tax assessors. The worst thing is that they raised money and collected the skins of animals that were sacrificed during Eid al-Adha by exploiting the spiritual feelings of people regardless of whether they could afford or not, saying that they would help the poor. It is still unknown where and through which channels these sources were funneled.

According to data for 1994, himmets soared from $840 million in the early 2000s from $300 million in 1994. U.S. data reveals that they surged to $1.3 billion in 2013. This money which was raised through illegal means initiated the founding of Gülenist companies and holdings in the 1990s and enabled them to launder the illicit money. Intelligence reports disclose that FETÖ controlled $4 billion worth of money traffic a year thanks to its structuring in 160 countries. Banks and dozens of shell companies were established to manage this enormous money traffic.

Read in PART II:



*ÇETİNER ÇETİN is a Turkish journalist. He graduated from Ankara University Political Science Faculty in 2000. He started his career of journalism at the Middle East desk of NTV-Sawatel News Agency- AFP-Cihan Consortium in 2002. He was then hired by NTV, Turkey’s leading news channel and became NTV’s Iraq representative. After working six years for NTV, in 2009 he continued his career as TRT Türk’s Iraq office’s supervisor. He had worked as political, Middle East news reporter and as the National Assembly Chief Clerk of Turkish daily Yeni Şafak for 5 years. He worked as the manager of Middle East desk and international media at Turkish Prime Ministry Public Diplomacy Coordination Office. ÇETİNER ÇETİN wrote this article for MEO on Saturday, July 30, 2016.