Gülenists chose Latin America as ‘new base,’ Turkish aid agency’s coordinator says
REUTERS photoThe Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) is using Latin America as a base to restructure itself, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency’s (TİKA) Colombia coordinator told state-run Anadolu Agency on July 28.
FETÖ, widely believed to have been behind last year’s failed coup, is already very strong in Brazil and Argentina and is trying to gain strength in Colombia, said Mehmet Özkan, who is also a professor of international relations and a lecturer at the Turkish Police Academy in the capital Ankara.
According to Özkan, a large number of FETÖ members fled to Latin America in the aftermath of the coup attempt, where he said “they are restructuring themselves for their next move” in a remote corner of the world “where they remain out of sight.”
“This [restructuring] is done in a secret manner. We can call it more of a regrouping or repositioning,” he claimed.
Özkan added they had received intelligence that some FETÖ members had applied for asylum at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) office in Colombia.
“Turkish citizens do not need a visa to visit Latin America countries. They do not need a visa to travel to the United States from there, either,” he said, adding while some FETÖ members chose to remain in whatever Latin America country they arrived at, some others travelled to the U.S.
“In a sense, they are using the region as a stopover point. They are very comfortable there as there are not many Turks to monitor their moves. Therefore, they can operate there more easily,” he said.
FETÖ and the U.S. based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen are accused of orchestrating the July 15, 2016 coup attempt which left 250 people killed and more than 2,000 injured.
Turkey accuses FETÖ of a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, the police and the judiciary.