US doc­u­ment to Tur­key serves as proof of Gülen’s con­nec­tion with coup at­tempt

One of the most se­nior civil­ian sus­pects be­hind last year’s coup at­tempt told U.S. cus­toms of­fi­cials that he was in their coun­try to pay a visit to Fe­tul­lah Gülen, the leader of the Gülenist cult

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page - OKAN MÜDERRİSOĞLU – ANKARA

A doc­u­ment from the U.S. has re­vealed the con­nec­tion be­tween the July 15 coup at­tempt and FETÖ’s leader Fe­tul­lah Gülen. Ac­cord­ing to which, Ke­mal Bat­maz, one of the mas­ter­minds of the coup at­tempt, told U.S. cus­toms of­fi­cials a few months be­fore the coup at­tempt that he was en­ter­ing the U.S. to visit Gülen

A CIVIL­IAN cap­tured red handed at the head­quar­ters of plot­ters dur­ing last year’s coup at­tempt told U.S. cus­toms of­fi­cials a few months be­fore that he was on his way to visit Fe­tul­lah Gülen, the fugi­tive leader of the Gülenist Ter­ror Group (FETÖ). The coup, blamed on FETÖ, last year on July 15 caused the deaths of 250 peo­ple and in­jured thou­sands. The coup at­tempt was di­rected from the Akıncı Air Base near cap­i­tal Ankara. On July 16, 2016, as au­thor­i­ties pushed back forces sup­port­ing the coup and took back con­trol, mil­i­tary forces be­sieged the Akıncı base, ar­rest­ing of­fi­cers and civil­ians in­volved in the coup while free­ing many se­nior of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing Chief of Gen­eral Staff Gen. Hu­lusi Akar from cap­tiv­ity. Among those ar­rested in or near the base were civil­ians Adil Ök­süz, a the­ol­ogy aca­demic from Sakarya Univer­sity, and Ke­mal Bat­maz, an ex­ec­u­tive at a com­pany linked to FETÖ. While Gülen de­nied any in­volve­ment in the coup at­tempt, he said some of his fol­low­ers might have been in­ad­ver­tently in­volved. Ök­süz, was de­tained near the Akıncı base be­fore be­ing re­leased by a court un­der sus­pi­cious cir­cum­stances. He has been miss­ing ever since. Bat­maz, when taken aside by sus­pi­cious Amer­i­can cus­toms of­fi­cials in Jan­uary 2016 as he was en­ter­ing the U.S., said he was on his way to visit Gülen’s house in Penn­syl­va­nia, U.S., ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion pro­vided to the Po­lice De­part­ment by the U.S. De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity.

THE IN­FOR­MA­TION pro­vides a di­rect link be­tween the se­cre­tive cult leader and last year’s coup at­tempt.

Prose­cu­tors ac­cuse Gülen him­self of di­rect­ing the coup at­tempt through his FETÖ op­er­a­tives. His crim­i­nal cult in­fil­trated many state in­sti­tu­tions through the decades, con­trol­ling re­cruits through what the cult termed imams, mainly civil­ians with di­rect links to Gülen him­self. FETÖ re­cruits within the mil­i­tary, the Po­lice De­part­ment, and many ju­di­cial bod­ies un­der the con­trol of th­ese imams acted for the ben­e­fit of the cult and its leader, who has been liv­ing in a com­pound in Penn­syl­va­nia in the U.S. for more than a decade.

Both the Obama and Trump ad­min­is­tra­tions have failed to take ac­tion for the ex­tra­di­tion of Gülen to Tur­key where he is be­ing tried in ab­sen­tia as the num­ber one sus­pect in the last year’s coup at­tempt.

The De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity was re­spond­ing to the In­te­rior Min­istry’s re­quest for de­tails per­tain­ing to the travel records of se­nior FETÖ op­er­a­tives Ök­süz, Bat­maz, Hakan Çiçek, Nuret­tin Oruç and Harun Biniş in the U.S.

Bat­maz, a for­mer ex­ec­u­tive of Kay­nak Kağıt, a pa­per com­pany that op­er­ated one of the largest busi­ness con­glom­er­ates af­fil­i­ated with the ter­ror­ist group, told the court he was "near" Akıncı to see a plot of land he planned to pur­chase, in the com­pany of Harun Biniş, an­other em­ployee of a FETÖ-linked com­pany. Both men were caught on camera in the mil­i­tary base, and Bat­maz is ac­cused of be­ing a se­nior non-mil­i­tary fig­ure in the ter­ror­ist group who ex­e­cuted the coup plot.

Footage from within the base shows all sus­pects men­tioned above were present at the Akıncı Air Base on the night of the coup at­tempt and gen­er­als in­volved in the coup openly salut­ing Bat­maz.

Mean­while, Nuret­tin Oruç told a court he was in Kazan, Ankara, the dis­trict where the Akıncı base is lo­cated, to shoot a doc­u­men­tary on live­stock breed­ing. It would be a coin­ci­dence, as Oruç claimed, were it not for the fact that Akıncı was ac­tu­ally the com­mand cen­ter of the na­tion­wide coup at­tempt and the place where fighter jets took off to strike Par­lia­ment and the pres­i­den­tial com­plex.

Oruç was also caught on camera walk­ing in­side the base, though he claimed he has never been in­side, in­sist­ing that he was "out in the open" in a field where gen­darmerie forces cap­tured him. Oruç, who has links to the ter­ror­ist group like other de­fen­dants, had no cell­phone on him, also in tune with other key de­fen­dants, claim­ing he for­got to bring it with him that day.

Hakan Çiçek, owner of a pri­vate school linked to the ter­ror­ist group, was among non-mil­i­tary sus­pects caught at the base and is ac­cused of be­ing a point man for staff of­fi­cers loyal to FETÖ.

Çiçek said he was at the base for "a so­cial ac­tiv­ity" he de­scribed as "happy hour" where he sought "to pro­mote his school to of­fi­cers seek­ing to en­roll their chil­dren there."

Bat­maz, who vis­ited the U.S. dozens of times since Feb. 8, 2008, last went to New York on July 12, 2016, re­turn­ing to Is­tan­bul the next day, only days be­fore the coup at­tempt. Dur­ing his vis­its, Bat­maz usu­ally cited ad­dresses in New York, Ne­wark, Bal­ti­more and Wash­ing­ton D.C.

On Jan. 1, 2016, cus­toms au­thor­i­ties be­came sus­pi­cious of him dur­ing pass­port con­trol and took him aside for an in­ter­view. He had $7,000 with him, and ac­cord­ing to records, he said he would be at the Ho­tel Riviera at 169 Clin­ton Ave Ne­wark, NJ dur­ing his stay. He also gave the names of two friends he said were wel­com­ing him. He later said one of them, Yavuz U., would be tak­ing him to Gülen’s home in Penn­syl­va­nia to meet with the cult leader.

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, Çiçek, Oruç and Biniş also vis­ited the U.S. mul­ti­ple times in the past sev­eral years.

Ke­mal Bat­maz be­ing es­corted by two gen­darme of­fi­cers, with for­mer Air Force Com­man­der Akın Öztürk right be­hind him.

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