SETA has recently published a second, extended report on “The organization of FETO (Fethullah Gulen Terror Organization) in Germany and Germany’s Policy on FETO”. The comprehensive report expounds the structure and activities of the organization in Germany, considered a safe haven for FETO fugitives and offers a holistic account of FETO in Germany spanning the profile and historical institutionalization of the organization, structure of their network, recruitment methods, affiliated NGOs, schools, financial resources, lobby activities, media outlets, close relations with the German government and provides solutions and strategies for the combat against FETO. The report also conducts an elaborate comparative analysis of FETO prior and following the 15 July coup attempt, which marks a turning point in their operations, the result of four decades of covert operations, dedicated planning, foreign alliances and gradual infiltration into many state apparatuses and strategic organizations.
FETO’s structure, network and educational institutions
FETO’s second largest presence after Turkey amongst 170 countries worldwide is Germany. The report notes that FETO capitalizes on the fact that Germany is home to the largest Turkish diaspora and has largely gained ground by “exploiting the void created by unsuccessful integration strategies employed on Turkish expatriates”. FETO begins indoctrinating future followers at their schools governed by a separate and cunningly devised curriculum “that synthesize Gulenist teachings with modern science”. FETO opens numerous “light houses/Lichthauser” for students across Germany where the extracurricular indoctrination continues in a communal environment. As delineated in the report, there are around 25-30 private schools and 150 prep centers in Germany and it notes the resignation of a principal of German origin from one of these schools citing his farewell statement: “The teachers are admirers of Gulen and take decisions in my absence. I can no longer take responsibility for this school.”
The report depicts the concentric and hierarchical structure of FETO where the external circle consists of sympathizers and attendees of the weekly sohbet (“discussion”) gatherings, and those that receive financial aid from FETO, the middle circle comprises the financial donors, businessmen who cover the wages of the inner circle and provide resources for the activities of the external circle. The inner circle contains teachers, journalists, lobbyists, academicians, think tanks and company employees of FETO. The report notes that their allegiance and loyalty is appraised by how much they “give back” to their community as percentage of wages “reaching up to 70% of their income”.
FETO’s income sources
With an estimated net worth of 50 billion dollars worldwide as of 2008, the report suggests that the organization operates akin to a holding rather than a religious organization and divulges affiliate organizations that generate revenues as companies, schools, media outlets, NGOs and charity organizations which funnel money to be used for alternate purposes. Their business platform BUV (Federal Union of Entrepreneurs Foundation) comprises many important companies. The report also reveals that FETO is noted for “generating illegal income via money laundering, tax evasion and spurious bills through members holding dual citizenship to facilitate undetected international transfer of money.”
“We will be useful for Germany”
Following the coup attempt which largely revealed their ulterior intentions in the eyes of public opinion (unanimously in Turkey and increasingly abroad), FETO was compelled to put on a facade to maintain their presence in Germany, by distancing and differentiating themselves from the rest of the Turkish diaspora, the report attests that FETO adopted a multifaceted rhetoric such as “moderate Islam”, “interfaith dialogue”, “educational organization”, “well-integrated/assimilated Turk” and “useful instrument to pressurize the Turkish government”. The report highlight that for Die Welt newspaper, FETO openly confesses that they will be useful for Germany (Wir Werden Deutschland von Nutzen Sein).
FETO’s infiltration into German politics
The report showcases the political infiltration of FETO in Germany via their Intercultural Dialogue Forum (Forum für Interkulturellen Dialog e.V. –FID) where former president of German Federal Parliament and member of CDU Christian Democratic Union, Rita Süssmuth and Omid Nouripour of the Alliance ’90/The Greens who currently serves as a member of the Bundestag, spokesperson on party’s foreign affairs, both served as members of the advisory board. Both members were “compelled to part ways with FID after public questioning of their affiliation with FETO following recent developments”.
Germany’s reaction to FETO and suggestions for joint bilateral action
Capitalizing on the ease with Germany provides recluse to Turkish political refugees, FETO has sought the assistance of Germany and as the report indicates “among 288 diplomatic passport holders and 771 special passport holders who have applied for asylum, 42% have been accepted by February 2018.”
Germany’s reluctance to extradite coup plotters, failure to acknowledge the criminal status of FETO and open condoning of FETO atrocities despite ample evidence provided by Turkey and the criticisms directed by German opposition parties on the antidemocratic nature of FETO, is regarded to be “in stark contradiction with their supposed stance on democratic values and hurts bilateral relations.” The report notes the remarks of Bruno Kahl, president of German Federal Intelligence Service who rejected in an interview to Der Spiegel that FETO was behind the coup attempt. When asked whether Berlin was informed of the powers behind the 15 July coup attempt, Kahl replied that answering this question would not be possible since it would be against the German government’s “vital interests”.
The report suggests that the German public is still largely uninformed of FETO’s true colors and receives a one sided view of the organization and calls the German government to take concrete steps to cooperate with Turkey to thwart this dangerous organization and raise awareness on their covert criminal operations. The report also suggests that bilateral cooperation can be triggered into motion between the two countries by providing concrete suggestions for joint action to thwart FETO which poses a mutual threat to both countries as it uses similar methodologies to permeate state institutions worldwide and has publicly announced that it will completely move its base from Turkey to Germany following the coup attempt.
*Written by Rukiye Kaya