We warned gov’t on Gülen back in 2004: Former top soldier

We warned gov’t on Gülen back in 2004: Former top soldier

We warned gov’t on Gülen back in 2004: Former top soldier Turkey’s top security board warned the government about the actions of the Gülenist movement in 2004 but no action was taken against the network, the former head of the army has said, admitting that they could do little against the group at the time.

“We warned the government about FETÖ [Fethullahist Terror Organization] in 2004 through a National Security Council (MGK) decision. However, we observed that nothing was done,” former Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Özkök, who was the top soldier at the time, said on Oct. 19 in a parliamentary commission established to investigate the thwarted July 15 military coup attempt. Özkök served as chief of general staff between 2002 and 2006 before retiring from the army.

“We briefed the government accurately and we said the situation was not good. A decision was issued there [in the MGK]. The MGK advised the government about that. We called it an executive plan. We followed up what was done [by the government], and frankly, we did not observe any measures being taken,” Özkök added.

A parliamentary commission was established after July 15 to investigate the failed coup bid. The commission which was formed and approved by the parliament assigned nine lawmakers from the ruling the Justice and Development Party (AKP), four lawmakers from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), one lawmaker from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and one lawmaker from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to listen to prominent figures and prepare a report to be submitted to parliament. The commission convened its first meeting on Oct. 7 and decided who to listen to and question on Oct. 13.

In the meeting on Oct. 19, Özkök said they continued informing the government about reactionary forces and the dangers of such organizations in MGK meetings in which commanders-in-chief of the armed forces were present. 

“In 2004 MGK, as armed forces, we made a briefing and said: ‘This organization [FETÖ] has attained large capabilities. The capabilities have been formed over the years but it may change over a night,’ we said. We advised them to form an action plan and follow it up,” he said.

“We acted upon what we heard as much as we could,” he said. “We went to the MGK meetings with a consensus. After the meetings it was not in our hands. I was retired in 2006 anyway,” he added.