The followers of cult leader Fethullah Gulen developed a strategy of infiltrating state institutions since the 1970s with the intention of taking over the state from within. Parallel to this, a series of suspicious assassinations that took place at beginning of the 2000s raised suspicion as to the involvement of individuals who were later revealed to be working on behalf of the Fethullah Gulen Terror Organisation (FETO).
These assassinations shared common features – the prosecutors were largely the same people, investigations were obstructed, and they closed down the files for various reasons. Likewise, Gulen aligned media organs engaged in campaigns of black propaganda, purposely spreading disinformation surrounding the cases.
It was also understood that most of these murders were preparation for the Ergenekon trials. Investigations into an alleged deep state network called Ergenekon began after the discovery of munitions alleged to belong to the Turkish Armed Forces in the Umraniye district of Istanbul during the summer of 2007. As the discovered munitions bore similarity to those used in terror attacks, prosecutor Zekeriya Oz, who is allegedly part of the FETO network, launched an investigation.
Capitalizing on the fact that elements within the armed forces were openly opposed to the Justice and Development Party government elected in 2002, prosecutors later accused of being members of FETO worked to formulate a narrative that the army was attempting to destabilize Turkey by engaging in clandestine terror activity with the purpose of providing a pretext for military intervention.
It soon became clear, however, that the alleged Ergenekon network was a FETO-led conspiracy. It has been well established that the goal of FETO was to orientate public opinion against their opponents within the army and bureaucracy by blaming assassinations on them to open the way for FETO members to advance their careers. Those FETO-aligned officers who the Ergenekon trials cleared the way for were those who were involved in a coup attempt in Turkey in July of this year. In addition to this, FETO has also been accused of assassinating a number of critics and opponents of the movement.