Terror group `FETO' has infiltrated India, warns Turkish minister

22 August 2016

Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organisation (FETO), a secretive international terror ring that has been blamed for plotting last month's failed coup to topple President Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, has "infiltrated" India, according to Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Speaking to news agency PTI, Cavusoglu confirmed the presence of FETO, a "secretive transnational criminal network" led by Turkish coup 'mastermind' Gulen, in India. The network, which has a presence around the world, has also ''infiltrated India through associations and schools," he said

The Turkish minister was speaking to the new agency after holding talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj. "I have already taken up this issue with my counterpart," he said, adding that his country is alerting all such countries where FETO has managed to penetrate.

"In all countries where FETO has a presence, we ask them to take immediate actions to remove them from their territories."

Commenting on the Turkish minister's discussion with the external affairs minister, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the Indian side is "sensitive" to Turkish concerns and Indian security agencies were "looking into" Ankara's demand for closure of associations connected with FETO which were carrying out illegal activities.

Cavusoglu said terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations constitute a threat to India and Turkey and, "Therefore, exchange of information regarding these threats and bilateral and multilateral cooperation and solidarity against terrorism is crucial."

"This is what both Turkey and India are focused on," he said.

Talking about last month's coup attempt, the visiting dignitary said that a clandestine faction led by FETO within the Turkish Army attempted to stage a coup on July 15 to overthrow the democratically elected government.

"We appreciate the prompt support to our democratically elected government by my Indian counterpart, external affairs minister Swaraj," Cavusoglu added.

More than 240 people died and over 1,500 others were injured as a fallout of the failed coup.

Turkish President Erdogan had blamed US-based cleric Gulen for the attempted coup last month.

The Turkish minister expressed concern over the situation in Syria, maintaining that his country was directly impacted by every dynamic of the conflict there, and asked the international community to work together to bring about the much-needed political transition in Syria. "This is not only a prerequisite to end the conflict, it is also essential to effectively fight terrorism," the minister asserted.

India's investigation agencies that are actively engaged in investigating involvement of global terror organisation in fomenting trouble in India, meanwhile said, the ISIS (or Daesh as they are known in the Arab world) could be a bigger threat than Pakistani terrorists.

Reports quoting IG Alok Mittal, who has busted sleeper cells and probed, among others, the Mumbai youths who had joined the terror outfit, said the extremist group has emerged as the biggest threat to national security, surpassing Pakistani outfits.

Nearly 40 people - suspected Daesh operatives and sympathisers - have been arrested in different parts of the country since mid-2014 and eight jihadist modules have been broken up, according to IG Alok Mittal of the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Mittal, a 1993 batch IPS officer, has been awarded the 'President's Police Medal' at the Independence Day celebrations in Delhi for his anti-Daesh efforts.

Whily officials are unable to comment on the number of Indian youth who have been radicalised or influenced by Daesh, according to one estimate, the figure is in the range of 7,000 to 8,000.

A few hundred are prepared to travel to Iraq and Syria, where the extremists control large swathes of territory. Around 50 people, like Mumbai businessman Ashfaque Ahmed (26) and his two cousins, have already left the country. Such recruits pose as a major security challenge as they may carry out lone-wolf attacks on their return, he pointed out.

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