'FETO terrorist group had hidden agenda from beginning'

'FETO terrorist group had hidden agenda from beginning'

After multiple plots against Turkish gov't, terror group felt need to develop messaging app known as ByLock, says official

By Seda Sevencan

ISTANBUL (AA) - The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, had a hidden agenda since its beginnings, a Turkish official said on Saturday.

FETO is an atypical, armed terror group that exploits the religious sentiments of the people, Deputy Justice Minister Yakup Mogul said at a roundtable press briefing in the metropolis Istanbul, adding that the terror group aimed for a new political, economic, and social order by changing the country's constitutional order.

As an organization that "hides its true purpose with educational, social and religious services, FETO has "infiltrated the most critical institutions of the state under the guise of legality," said Mogul.

"While typical terrorist organizations aim to increase their power and human resources with the method of force and intimidation, FETO has acted in secrecy and adopted infiltrating all state institutions under a legal guise as a method," Mogul said, adding that even before the 2016 putsch, FETO had been defined as the "Parallel State Structure."

FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Turkish authorities accuse FETO of also being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

- Bylock

Mogul underlined that the "real identity of the organization" had started to be publicly discussed after such plots as a 2012 crisis surrounding Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) in which police chiefs and prosecutors affiliated with the terror group sought to take over the MIT by launching a sham investigation against it, as well as a problem concerning private tutoring centers many of which were FETO-run, as well the "unlawful Dec. 17-25 investigations," which were a precursor to the 2016 coup attempt.

Pro-FETO prosecutors and police officers plotted a so-called graft probe against top government officials to overthrow Turkey’s elected government and launched a large-scale raid on Dec. 17-25, 2013, detaining prominent figures.

Amid such plots, FETO felt the need to develop an encrypted messaging app called ByLock, which it used from 2014 to March 2016 to ensure confidential communication among its members, explained Mogul.

It had been claimed that the app was developed by US-national David Keynes, thus giving it the image of a globally used program, he added, noting, however, that it was designed for the exclusive use of FETO members from the very beginning.

Keynes was later revealed to be a Turkish citizen named Alpaslan Demir, who later only gained American citizenship, when he contacted Turkish authorities through his lawyer and declared his intention to turn himself in and confess. His lawyers submitted a petition to judicial authorities in Istanbul on March 4.

After eventually arriving at Istanbul Airport and being heard by the court on duty on June 9, Demir was put in jail.

In court, he admitted that he holds the copyright to ByLock, the terror group’s encrypted messaging app, but later claimed that his credit card and ID were used by FETO members without his knowledge.

Detailing his history and affiliation to the court, Demir confirmed that he stayed at houses strictly supervised by the terror group, and worked, for a short time, for exam preparation courses it operated as a revenue stream.

But, he added that his growing frustration with FETO led him to disassociate himself from the terror group in 1997.

Demir now faces charges of armed terror group membership and up to 15 years in prison.​​​​​​​

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