The 15 July coup attempt was the continuation of FETO/PSS’s aim to take over the country and establish a “fascist and one man rule” in Turkey. With this assault, a group that had long presented itself as moderate Muslims turned into a terrorist organization that ran over people with tanks and opened fire on them from helicopters. In the history of FETO, this was the first time that they were caught red-handed. The coup attempt has also shown that FETO/PSS members do not hesitate to shed the blood of innocents on the orders of F. Gülen.
The documents seized after the failed coup sheds light on the reason why the junta acted on the 15th of July. On the 9th of July, Prosecutors in İzmir arrested seven persons, including 2 admirals who were implicated in connection with an operation launched against FETO. The Gülenists saw this operation as a warning shot. Also just four days before the coup, on the 11th of July, the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MİT) had given the names of 600 military officers under suspicion to the military’s general staff. The plan was to sideline them during the annual Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting which was due on the first of August. Predicting that a big operation was underway, the Gülenist put their most daring attempt into action on the 15th of July.
What Happened on the Night of 15 July?
On 15 July, a rogue faction within Turkey’s military attempted to suspend the Constitution, impose martial law and enforce a nationwide curfew. As troops and tanks blocked the traffic crossing from Asia to Europe over the Bosporus Bridge in İstanbul, a number of government buildings including the Parliament, the Presidential Palace and the intelligence headquarters were heavily assaulted.
The Turkish parliament, which was one of the targets of the coup plotters, was continuously bombed.
The damage made at the Prime ministers office after the FETO-linked soldiers bombed the parliament with F-16s.
The rogue faction seized the public broadcaster and forced an anchor woman held at gunpoint to announce that they were now in charge. Senior officers who refused to submit were taken hostage, including the Chief of the General Staff General Hulusi Akar. Prime Minister Yıldırım called the coup illegal and President Erdoğan ordered the police and other security forces to stop the coup plotters. Soon afterward, President Erdoğan appeared on a television channel to call on the people to resist the illegal power grab. When President Erdoğan’s message was aired live, the junta soldiers invaded the premises of that channel as well. However, millions had heard the call and started to defy the FETO affiliated rogue soldiers.
In the meantime, an elite military squad was sent to the hotel where President Erdoğan was vacationing at a southern resort town,
to kill him and his entire family. Having barely escaped the assassination attempt, President Erdoğan left the hotel on his official jet, which reached İstanbul safely after the pilot deceived rogue F-16s patrolling the airspace. On his arrival at the airport, he once again called the nation to resist against the junta.
Ankara Police Headquarters was destroyed after it was bombed by two F-16 war planes.
The leaders of Turkey’s political opposition, particularly the Republican People’s Party and National Movement Party strongly condemned the 15 July coup attempt and declared their strong support to the civilian government. From the early hours, the leaders called their supporters to resist and stand for democracy and the constitution. For the first time, ordinary people from all segments of society came out to the streets to protest. Therefore, President Erdoğan thanked all MPs and political parties for their courageous stand at his recent visit to the Parliament.
Despite the attempt by Gülenist military officers to drag the country into chaos, the will of the Turkish people, their resolve to defend democracy as well as the democratically-elected president and government helped to suppress the coup attempt. People from all walks of life, from different political parties with different political views and ideological backgrounds went out and defended democracy.
249 people were martyred and 2,301 got wounded by FETO -linked soldiers at the night of July 15 coup attempt.
The Testimonies of the Coup Plotters and the involvement of F. Gülen
Gülen was quick to deny responsibility, but confessions of military officers involved in the putschist junta and several remarkable testimonies indicate that Gülenists were directly responsible for the attempted coup. Testimonies and evidence obtained from coup plotters point to Fethullah Gülen as the leader of the coup attempt, which was planned and staged by his followers within the army. Levent Türkkan, aide-de-camp to the chief of staff of Turkish Armed Forces General Hulusi Akar, confessed to being a member of the Gülenist group after he was arrested, adding that he executed orders from his Gülenist superiors. In his statement Türkkan, who names himself a member of FETO, said that there was an “older brother” codenamed Murat who was in charge of him. Adding that he was the child of a poor family and met with Gülenist “older brothers” while he was at junior high school, Türkkan also said he had been given the exam questions before he entered the Işıklar Military High School’s admission exams in 1989. Generals leading the coup had also urged General Akar to speak directly to F. Gülen, hoping to persuade him to join in their rebellion, according to General Akar. According to his statement, the putschists asked him to sign the coup declaration that night and told him ‘If you want, we can get you in touch with our opinion leader, Fethullah Gülen”.
To understand the critical role of “civilians” in the Gülenist structure, the testimonies of Muhammet Uslu, a putschist who was a primary school teacher and worked at the private secretariat at the prime ministry, is shocking and very enlightening. Muhammet Uslu, codenamed ‘Murat’, has confessed that he provided the equipment to wiretap the chief of staff. He has given and collected regularly the recording device from Levent Türkkan, the aidede camp of the chief of staff, and Gökhan Seki, an employee at the HQ of General Staff. Uslu said that he would take the recording devices back when they were full and gave them to a person codenamed ‘Murat’. Apparently, this went on for over two years.
Another striking example is Adil Öksüz, an assistant professor of theology at Sakarya University. Öksüz was a senior member of FETO and referred to as the ‘black box’ of Gülen. He served as the imam for the Turkish Air Force and was caught at Akıncı Air Base on the night of the coup. After he took his family and placed them at Pennsylvania, Öksüz returned back to Turkey on the 13th of July to deliver the orders and coordinate the coup d’état.
Testimony of Gürsel Aktepe also proves the involvement of Gülen. Aktepe was working as a deputy director in the intelligence department of the Turkish Police and was suspended in 2014. He was captured while trying to take over the National Police HQ with the rogue army officers. On the night of the failed coup, Aktepe said he received a message via a messaging app called Tango that read: “The coup has taken place. For assistance, everyone must go to the places they used to work and get in touch with General Mehmet.” Aktepe said the Gülenists gave him 4,500 TL (around $1400) every month after he was dismissed from his position as Ankara deputy police chief following a domestic security bill passed last year. He used to receive money from a person with the code name ‘Zubeyir’, who worked for Samanyolu College linked to the Gülenists.
Brigadier General Fatih Celaleddin Sağır, commander of an infantry brigade in the central city of Sivas, was on a list of people who the coup plotters planned to assign as martial law commanders, had the attempt been successful. Sağır confessed his connection to FETO during his interrogation by prosecutors. According to his statements, Sağır said that he often attended meetings of Gülen followers, especially during the 1980s and 1990s, and had served “the movement” for 10 years.
Another FETÖ-linked bureaucrat Mustafa Kocyigit, a former specialist at the Prime Minister’s office, told prosecutors that he was recruited by Gulenist while he was in college. In his testimony, Kocyigit said “I was a successful student and went to their university preparation exam courses. Upon being admitted into Ankara University’s School of Political Science and Public Administration, I was introduced to a FETO member called Selman, in whose home I picked the code name Akif,”. Kocyigit confessed that he was collected sensitive information from his contacts at the intelligence department of Turkish National Police and handed them over to an elder brother codenamed “Furkan”.
Mithat Aynacı was a police chief in İstanbul until 2013, when he was dismissed for his role in the two Gülenist-linked investigations against several government officials and politicians. He managed to return to duty after he won a lawsuit against his dismissal. When tanks were heading to İstanbul police headquarters, Aynacı was found in one of the tanks. A video recording shows Aynacı, wearing a military officer uniform, entering the tank, and another one shows him forcefully pulled from the tank.
During the coup attempt, 179 civilians, 62 policemen and 5 soldiers lost their lives and 2,195 people were injured. Right after the plot, Turkey has immediately established public safety, subdued the perpetrators, and has begun to remove FETO/PSS members from the State and public institutions. Civil servants who have been identified as FETO members have been dismissed from all institutions, the Judiciary and the Security in particular, beside the TSK. Some others are under legal investigation.
In order to implement effective measures and uphold the rule of law, the Government declared a state of emergency for three months after the National Security Council meeting on 20 July 2016. The next day, the Turkish Parliament endorsed the Government’s decision by an overwhelming majority where several members from opposition parties also voted in favor. This measure is in line with Article 120 of the Turkish Constitution. President Erdoğan has repeatedly assured the public and opposition parties that “the process of state of emergency will be managed with utmost care to minimize negative effects of the failed coup on Turkish people and everyday life”.
Considering the magnitude of the event, the dangers posed to democracy and the urgency of the measures needed to be taken, the state of emergency was necessary particularly to eliminate the cadres affiliated to FETO within state institutions. In fact, state of emergency is not an unusual method and one which Western democracies resort to in critical times. Most recently, France, the U.S., and Germany have implemented this measure in the wake of terrorist attacks or general public disorders.
As a further step, the Turkish Government has requested the extradition of Fethullah Gülen to Turkey as the coup instigator. 4 separate dossiers have already been handed over to the U.S. authorities to support the extradition request. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also urged the U.S. to hand over Fethullah Gülen. Another opposition party leader, Devlet Bahçeli also called on the US to extradite Gülen stating that he and his terrorist network were behind the coup.