By Esma Kucuksahin, Sertac Bulur, Cankut Tasdan and Emrah Yasar
KAYSERI / ANKARA / ESKISEHIR, Turkey (AA) – Turkish security forces arrested at least 12 suspects for their alleged links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey, authorities said on Thursday.
Anti-terror police teams in the central province of Kayseri arrested four female suspects in an operation carried out at various addresses to apprehend the suspects, who were determined to be the "covert imams,” or senior FETO members, responsible for the wives of police officers.
Also, a fugitive FETO suspec twas caught by provincial organized crime police teams in a house where she was hiding in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
Identified by the initials S.S., the suspect was wanted for three years, said a source, who asked not to be identified because of restrictions on speaking to the media.
It was discovered that the suspect was a user of the terror group’s encrypted messaging app, ByLock, and worked as an "elderly sister at FETO house." She was responsible for "regional students" within the so-called education structure of FETO.
Separately, anti-smuggling and organized crime police teams in the central province of Eskisehir nabbed seven suspects, including six convicts with a final sentence order of four to eight years for "being a member of an armed terrorist organization."
One suspect, identified as B.D.B., who was expelled from a teaching position, was sought for allegedly being a "covert imam" – a senior FETO member – of the terror group.
FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, in which 251 people were killed and 2,734 injured.
Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
*Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev from Ankara