President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey vowed in July 19 to locate supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a US resident cleric. The Turkish government alleges that Gulen and his supporters orchestrated an attempted military putsch on July 15 which resulted in the deaths of a minimum of 232 people. The Erdogan administration has already purged the army, judiciary and the police of what it calls Gulen sympathizers. They have also asked the United States to extradite Gulen. The US has responded by saying that it will consider extradition only if there is clear evidence of Gulen being linked to the attempted coup.
Binali Yildrim, the Turkish Prime Minister, has accused Washington of having double standards in the latter's fight against terrorism. Prime Minister Yildrim said that the Turkish justice ministry has already dispatched a dossier to American authorities on this matter. He mentioned that this coup by the military is worse as civilians had been targeted as well. Turkey's last military coup took approximately 30 years before.
Yildirim warned that no parallel terorist organization can operate in Turkey and will not be an effective pawn for any other country. He stressed that the Turkish Government will dig up the troublemakers so that Turkey will never suffer again. About 1,400 individuals suffered injuries as soldiers used tanks, warplanes and attack helicopters in their tries to forcibly takle power. They strafed the intelligence headquarters and parliament. Attempts were also made to take control of bridges and the main airport in Istanbul. Turkish authorities have detained or suspended nearly 20,000 soldiers, civil servants, police and judges after the event.
The alleged mastermind of this operation, Fethullah Gulen, presently lives in rural Pennsylvania. He is described by those who met him as a towering personality and has a distinct presence. He advocates Sufi tinged version of Islam which lays stress on education. He also promotes individual business.
Turkish authorities, however, regard Gulen's leadership as a threat. They say that he has excessive political influence via his followers who have infiltrated Turkish bureaucracy and also have links to business and media.
When asked about the coup, Gulen condemned it, saying that the event is treason. He further said that he would not even dream of replacing the present rulers of Turkey through anti-democratic means. Curiously, he hinted that the administration of Erdogan is like a pack of blood thirsty vampires.