By Selma Kasap
Turkey’s education minister on Tuesday warned African countries about the activities in Africa of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind last year’s defeated coup in Turkey.
"You should know that a great many FETO members who were uncovered in Turkey went to African countries and continued their campaign against Turkey using so-called ‘innocent’ structures," Ismet Yilmaz told ambassadors from African countries gathered in a hotel in the capital Ankara.
They should not let FETO poison their countries' relations with Turkey, Yilmaz stressed.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup attempt of July 15, 2016 which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Yilmaz said FETO's activities focus on education and the economy and that it uses hospitals, media organs, public and private institutions, and NGOs as a mask.
Their private schools employ terrorists and pursue FETO’s goals under the cover of education, Yilmaz added.
"FETO-linked schools pose a threat not only to Turkey's security but also to the countries they are active in,” he explained.
“So we want our African counterparts, who are friendly countries, to rid these schools of FETO elements." he said.
Switching schools to Maarif Foundation
Yilmaz also said that Turkey's Maarif Foundation has started to take over FETO schools in Africa.
"We value your support on this subject," he added.
Yilmaz said the foundation has opened offices in 30 countries to provide educational services.
Only a year after being founded, Maarif has taken over 32 FETO-linked schools in the African countries of Somalia, Guinea, Niger, Sudan, and the People's Republic of Congo, Yilmaz added.
He said similar processes of taking over FETO schools and opening new ones are continuing in 15 other countries, most of them in Africa.
The Maarif Foundation was established after the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey to take over the administration of overseas schools linked to FETO. It also establishes schools and education centers abroad.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, including the military, police, judiciary, and schools.
FETO also has a considerable presence outside Turkey, including private educational institutions that serve as a revenue stream for the terrorist group.