Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Friday that recent military operations demonstrate that the effectiveness and deterrence of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have significantly increased since discharging officers linked to the Gülenist Terrorist Group (FETÖ).
Akar told Anadolu Agency (AA) that “20,062 FETÖ-linked personnel have been dismissed from the military so far.”
“They will never wear this uniform again,” he said.
FETÖ, which posed as a charity movement with religious undertones for decades, had managed to infiltrate its members into law enforcement, the military, the judiciary and the bureaucracy over many years. Most of the moles were recruited before they applied to the military, police or law schools, and FETÖ is accused of stealing questions and answers to exams for admission to those institutions, easily planting its members without suspicion. Authorities started cracking down on the group’s network after the 2016 coup attempt that killed 251 people.
Akar noted that the TSK is continuing its active operations on land, in the air and on the seas with 5,000 personnel, in addition to fulfilling its humanitarian missions.
Turkish prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 59 suspects across the country over their alleged links to FETÖ on Friday.
Provincial anti-terror police teams launched simultaneous operations in 28 provinces nationwide to catch the suspected “covert imams” or senior FETO members linked to the TSK members.
The suspects, who stand accused of periodically making contact with terror affiliates via payphones and land lines, were also identified by the testimonies of former detainees in an investigation in the western province of Izmir.
Separately, 10 Turkish Armed Forces officers, including eight on active duty, were arrested in a case related to the infiltration of the armed forces. The simultaneous operations were held in 10 provinces after prosecutors in the Marmara region of Balıkesir issued warrants.