Pilot warns of ‘sustained FETÖ threat’ in Turkish military
Fevzi Kızılkoyun - ANKARA
A Turkish military pilot, who is cooperating with prosecutors after being dismissed from the service over his links to suspected plotters of the July 2016 coup attempt, has warned about the “sustained threat” posed by “disguised members of [the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization] FETÖ.”
The Turkish authorities refer to the movement of U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen as FETÖ, which is widely believed to have orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 250 people killed and nearly 2,200 injured.
A lieutenant pilot speaking to daily Hürriyet on condition of anonymity confirmed that the group orchestrated the coup attempt from the Akıncı Air Base near Ankara, where he was also based.
“I was on holiday out of Ankara on the day of the coup attempt. When our fleet commander told us to share our locations as the coup attempt began, I saw that four or five people did not do it. I understood that they were FETÖ members. If F-16s take off from Akıncı then it means FETÖ was behind it because they were in control of this base,” the pilot said.
The F-16 pilot also admitted that he was “once linked to FETÖ.”
“There was a man, called Imam Musa, who was in charge of marriages inside the movement. He showed me a photo of three men with blurred faces and a woman. The woman was my girlfriend at the time, but he told me that this is the girl that I would marry. I tore out the photo and gradually severed my relationship with FETÖ,” said the pilot, who kept his position in the Turkish military after the coup attempt.
“Eight or nine months after the coup attempt, I was sent to the Diyarbakır air base and flew with my F-16 in reconnaissance missions over Syria in the scope of the Euphrates Shield Operation. I was one of the first pilots involved in the flights over the Jarablus-Azaz-al-Bab operations,” he said.
However, the pilot was soon called back to the Akıncı base. “My morning sortie was cancelled. I understood that they would be arresting me. So I went to the prosecutor and told everything I know about FETÖ,” he said.
As a wilful informant, the pilot was released soon after detention. “Still, seven months after I was released, they fired me from the Air Force,” he added.
When asked whether the FETÖ threat in the Turkish army has been abolished, the pilot answered negatively.
“They can’t solve the issue if they continue to fire informants like me from the Air Force. There are still a lot of disguised members of FETÖ there, some of them are pilots of my age. I am 100 percent sure of this. I am sure they are still flying,” he said.