World Bulletin / News Desk
German authorities are increasingly suspicious of Gulenists and the group is not regarded as a moderate religious sect anymore, Der Spiegel weekly reported on Friday.
Gulenists, also known as the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), was behind a long-running campaign in Turkey to wrest control of the state and its leaders orchestrated the defeated coup of 2016 that left 250 people martyred.
Der Spiegel published brief excerpts from a recent confidential report of the German Foreign Ministry in which a senior German diplomat made reference to warnings of a Turkish official and underlined FETO’s dangerous character.
“The conspiratorial part of the movement is characterized by a strict hierarchy and its structure resembled to the one of an organized crime group,” the report noted, according to the weekly.
In the past, German authorities did not regard FETO as a serious threat to Germany, and allowed the group to build a large network in the country, including businesses, private schools and media organizations.
Despite warnings from Ankara, in the aftermath of the foiled coup bid in 2016, German authorities declined to outlaw the group in the country, and argued that such a move could only come after concrete evidence of acts against German laws and its constitution.
Der Spiegel reported on Friday the German authorities were reconsidering their stance towards the group after recent revelations on its activities.
The weekly also published interviews with several former FETO members, who provided information about the secret practices of the group, in order to earn trust in public and increase its influence in key institutions.
Ex-FETO members argued that the group had developed “parallel structures”, and despite its democratic and moderate image in public, all decisions were in fact taken by its leaders in a strict hierarchy.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen carried out a long-running campaign in Turkey since 1980s and particularly tried to infiltrate key state institutions, including the military, police and judiciary.
In Germany, which is home to more than 3 million Turkish immigrants, FETO members have tried to avoid public criticism and have focused on "interfaith dialogue" programs, sticking to “moderate” messages, with the goal of winning the trust of media, influential churches and political institutions.
The group claims to have around 70,000 followers on German soil.
Nearly 4,000 suspected FETO members have come to Germany since the defeated coup in Turkey, according to the group members' statements on local media.
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