By Halil Fidan
IZMIR, Turkey (AA) - At least 20 military personnel have been arrested on Friday for their suspected links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated deadly coup attempt in Turkey, according to a security source.
Prosecutors in western Izmir province had issued arrest warrants for 52 serving commissioned officers of the Turkish Air Forces, who were allegedly serving as FETO’s “covert imams” -- senior FETO figures -- said the source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
The suspects are accused of using ByLock, an encrypted smartphone app linked to the group.
Izmir police also found that one suspect was in contact with senior FETO members -- Adil Oksuz, a theology professor, alleged to be the “imam” of FETO members in the air force and has a key link between U.S.-based FETO leader Fetullah Gulen and coup plotters in Turkey, and Kemal Batmaz, the accused second-in-command of the FETO terror group.
Police have so far rounded up 20 suspects in simultaneous operations launched in 12 provinces across Turkey.
A hunt for 32 remaining suspects were underway.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup attempt of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also 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 Busra Nur Bilgic