March 18, 2017

German intelligence head: We are not convinced Gülen is behind coup attempt

The head of the Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, said Turkey could not convince them that Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen was behind a failed coup attempt on July 15 despite accusations against the Gülen movement.

In an interview with the Spiegel magazine that was published on Saturday, Kahl said that despite Turkey’s efforts at different levels to convince Germany that Gülen was the mastermind of the coup, they were not persuaded.

Kahl, however, also ruled out arguments that the government staged the coup. “The coup was not initiated by the state. There was an ongoing purge even before July 15. As a result, some within the military thought that they should intervene before the purge reaches them. However, it was too late, and they were purged during this process, too,” Germany’s chief spy told Spiegel.

According to Kahl, the failed coup attempt served as a pretext to accelerate the purge. BND head said that what is being witnessed in the post-coup era was going to happen anyway, though maybe not with the same depth and same radical steps, in reference to an unprecedented crackdown of critics in Turkey.

In response to a question on the Gülen movement, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the head of German intelligence defined the movement as a civilian association that provides religious and secular education through a number of educational institutions. Kahl also said the Gülen movement and Erdoğan circles worked together for years with an emphasis on education.

Earlier in January, a report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) revealed that although President Erdoğan and the Turkish government immediately put the blame for the July 15 failed coup on the faith-based Gülen movement, the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge, according to a report by The Times newspaper.

The website reported on Jan. 25 that NATO sources believe the coup was staged by the president of Turkey himself.

Speaking to, a former Turkish officer who served at NATO headquarters in Brussels but was sacked and recalled to Turkey as part of an investigation into the failed coup on July 15 claims that the putsch was clumsily executed and never intended to bring down the government, but rather served as a vehicle for President Erdoğan to eliminate opponents and the ultranationalists to take a prominent role in the military and impose their “Eurasian” agenda on the country.

A report published by the German Focus magazine in August claimed that Turkish government members decided to put the blame for the coup attempt on Gülen half an hour after the uprising and agreed to begin a purge of Gülen followers the next day.

Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a great gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Published on Turkish Minute, 18 March 2017, Saturday