Gülen network included in US’s terrorism report for first time
REUTERS photoThe network of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen has been mentioned in the U.S. State Department’s annual report, the Country Reports on Terrorism 2016, for the first time, while not listing it among terrorist groups operating in Turkey.
In the Turkey section of the report, the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) was mentioned alongside the July 15, 2016, failed coup attempt, widely believed to have been masterminded by the group.
The report also said Turkey’s National Security Council (MGK) designated the group a terrorist organization on May 26, 2016, as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation listed it on Oct. 13 and Oct. 19, 2016, respectively.
While giving details about the bloody coup attempt that left 250 people dead and 2,193 people injured, the report said thousands of people have been dismissed with state of emergency decrees or arrested over their suspected links to the Gülenists.
The report said Turkey was in an active struggle against many terrorist groups, including the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Saying that Turkey considers the Syria-based Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), to be terrorist organizations closely linked to the PKK, the report didn’t include the YPG or the PYD in the list of terrorist groups.
A list of deadly terror attacks in Turkey were also given in the report, with most being carried out by ISIL or the PKK and one by the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), “a Marxist-Leninist terrorist group with anti-U.S. and anti-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) views that seeks the violent overthrow of the Turkish government.”
“Turkey has advanced law enforcement capacity to counter terrorism and efforts continue to streamline interagency information sharing. Turkey devoted additional investigative and preventive capabilities to disrupt the activities of terrorist organizations and foreign terrorist fighters, and dismantle their facilitation networks,” the report also said.
In addition, the report said Turkey identified several groups as terrorist organizations, including the Turkish Hizbullah, the Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist–Leninist (TKP/ML), and its armed wing, the Liberation Army of the Workers and Peasants of Turkey (TIKKO), as well as the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP).
Criticisms were also directed against Turkey, with the report saying that “courts imprisoned tens of thousands of persons accused of supporting the attempted coup or terrorist groups, in many cases with little clarity on the charges and evidence against them.”
The State Department praised Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield launched in northern Syria against ISIL on Aug. 24, 2016.
“The operation successfully pushed ISIL away from the last segment of the Syria-Turkey border it occupied and continued to extend further into ISIL-controlled territory at the end of 2016,” the report read.