It seems most likely that the followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen orchestrated the July 15 failed coup attempt in Turkey, according to a former U.S. ambassador to Ankara.
“We are still waiting – the entire public world – [for] specific evidence but most indications, not just the Turkish government’s statements, point to the Gülenist movement,” James Jeffrey, who was the U.S. ambassador to Ankara between 2008 and 2010, told daily Hürriyet in an interview.
“Because it clearly was not the military establishment,” he added.
Jeffrey, who retired in 2012 and now works for the Washington Institute, said he was aware of the Gülenists infiltration in state institutions when he was in Ankara.
His warnings to Washington were included in some of the diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks.
“The Gülenist movement has some infiltration at the least in the military that I am aware of. They of course had extreme infiltration into the police and judiciary earlier. I had seen that when I was in Turkey previously, particularly in the Sledgehammer case, [the National Intelligence Organization head] Hakan Fidan case [and the] corruption cases in 2013. It is very clear that significant segment of the bureaucracy in Turkey were infiltrated in and had their allegiance to a movement, not a state. That of course is absolutely unacceptable and extremely dangerous. And it highly likely that it has led to the [attempted] coup. What we don’t know is the absolute proof of this,” he said.
The former ambassador also said the actions of the coup plotters, and their leader Fethullah Gülen, could have resulted in murder charges in the U.S. system.
“What the coup plotters could easily be charged with in the American system would be murder,” he said.
“If you take the lives of others while committing a crime – even if not intended in advance – that is the most serious level of murder as the lives were taken consciously either to facilitate some other criminal activity or to protect those carrying out that activity. Thus if one can prove that someone consciously knew he/she was conducting a criminal act under a state’s laws, and that people died as a result of or attendant to that act, that would be a charge of murder.
“Gülen is a leader of an organization that has attempted to infiltrate state institutions illegitimately to carry out the goals of the organization in violation of Turkish laws and oaths of office. If it can be proven that the organization’s leaders ordered the coup, then as had been amply demonstrated the fact violence against civilians was carried out by those executing the coup could lead to charges of murder against the masterminds,” he said.