Terrorist group is ‘secretly restructuring itself,’ according to Turkish aid agency TIKA’s Columbia coordinator
The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) is using Latin America as a base to restructure itself, Turkish aid agency TIKA’s Columbia coordinator told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
FETO, who was behind last year’s July 15 defeated coup attempt, is already very strong in Brazil and Argentine, and trying to gain strength in Colombia, said Mehmet Ozkan, who is also a professor of international relations and lecturer at Turkish Police Academy in Ankara.
According to Ozkan, a large number of FETO members fled to Latin America in the aftermath of the coup attempt, where he said "they are restructuring themselves for their next move” in a remote corner of the world "where they remain out of sight”.
"This [restructuring] is done in a secret manner. We can call it more of a regrouping or repositioning," he said.
Ozkan added they had received intelligence that some FETO members had applied for asylum at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) office in Columbia.
"Turkish citizens do not need a visa to visit Latin America countries. They do not need a visa to travel to the United States from there, either," he said, adding while some FETO members chose to remain in whatever Latin America country they arrived at, some others travelled to the U.S.
"In a sense, they are using the region as a stopover point. They are very comfortable there as there are not many Turks to monitor their moves," he said. "Therefore, they can operate there more easily."
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and some 2,200 injured.
Turkey accuses FETO of a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.