A spokesman for Turkish President Erdogan said during a Friday press conference that “operations” have been ordered against Turkey’s political enemies, including those on US soil.
“Our relevant units and institutions will continue their operations in the countries the FETO operates in whether it be the U.S. or some other country,” said spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, describing how Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, MIT, would target followers of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen worldwide.
“Rest assured that they will feel Turkey breathing down their neck,” added Kalin.
Erdogan has been cracking down on Gulen’s network, which is said to be in the millions, while Gulen himself lives in exile in Pennsylvania following the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt that resulted in over 250 deaths and the imprisonment of thousands of suspected dissidents.
In March, MIT officials kidnapped six Turkish nationals in Kosovo to stand trial in Turkey for their support of Gulen. The incident caused international outrage.
“Operations similar to the one conducted in Kosovo can be carried out in other countries. All should know that Turkey will not allow the FETO to breathe a sigh of relief,” Kalin told reporters Friday, adding that Erdogan “has given very clear instructions on this issue.”
Friday’s announcement marks the most extreme steps taken by Ankara against Erdogan’s enemies. As the Daily Caller‘s Chuck Ross notes:
Operations in the U.S. have yet to go as far as the Kosovo incident.
Instead, the Turkish government has hired several lobbying firms and lawyers to debilitate a network of charter schools operated by Gulen’s followers. The lobbyists have also pressed officials in both the Obama and Trump administrations to extradite Gulen, who has lived in the U.S. since 1999.
Perhaps the most high-profile lobbyist for Turkey was Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser to President Donald Trump. A Turkish businessman linked to the government hired Flynn to investigate Gulen during the 2016 campaign. Flynn and the businessman, Ekim Alptekin, discussed kidnapping Gulen and returning him to Turkey, according to reports. –Daily Caller
Meanwhile, Turkey has been intimidating enemies of the state living in US exile. As the Caller reported last year, “at least six academics and journalists living in exile in the states were tracked and photographed by Turkish news outlets.”
Since Turkish media is largely under Erdogan’s control, outlets published photos and videos of exiles during routine activities such as shopping, running errands and even picking up their children from a swimming pool.
A Gulen-aligned nonprofit, the Alliance for Shared Values, told the Daily Caller that “Rather than being ashamed of such operations, they are boasting about them,” adding “Any actual efforts should be met swiftly with the full force of the United States government.”
Emre Uslu, a former editor at Today’s Zaman, a now-defunct newspaper that was controlled by Gulen supporters, has become one of Erdogan’s main U.S.-based targets. He has been included on a list of Erdogan critics sought for return to Turkey and was tracked by Turkish media outlets near his home in Virginia.
Erodgan supporters have also openly discussed on Turkish television the idea of kidnapping Uslu from the U.S. and returning him to Turkey.
“Turkey is no longer a stable country that one would be able to predict what its leaders would do,” Uslu told TheDCNF. “There is a possibility that operatives who wanted to further deteriorate the U.S.-Turkey relations would attempt to carry operations in the U.S.” –Daily Caller
Usulu fears that he will be targeted in any “operations” on American soil, and fears assassination – pointing to the 2013 Paris murder of three Kurdish activists. French authorities believe MIT was responsible.
Another journalist targeted by Erdogan, Aydogan Vatandas, doesn’t think Erdogan’s threat is that serious – telling the Caller that while MIT is more than capable of running operations in the US, he thinks Kalin’s statements are more likely aimed at tamping down protests against Erdogan’s visit to the UN General Assembly.
“The Turkish Intelligence is capable of carrying out this kind of activities in the U.S. There is no doubt about this,” Vatandas, a former reporter at Today’s Zaman, told TheDCNF. But he said that he does not believe that the Turkish government would jeopardize its already-frayed relationship in the U.S. by carrying out illegal activities on U.S. soil. –Daily Caller
“Mr. Kalin actually aims to frighten the opponents for potential demonstrations while Erdogan is in NY next week for U.N. Summit,” Vatandas added.