A retired army lieutenant general and former director of General Staff Intelligence Department in Turkey, İsmail Hakkı Pekin, stated in a TV program that US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen was one of the people they worked with.
Stating that people like Gülen could not be ignored by the intelligence department since they were "opinion leaders," Pekin said that "the state should control these people," otherwise they could get out of control as they became more powerful.
Pekin also said that people such as Gülen and Mehmet Şevket Eygi, another radical Islamist figure, were placed in the Special Warfare Department, the extension of Operation Gladio in Turkey. "The task of these people in the department was to fight against communism as part of the [Islamic] Greenbelt Project," he added.
Gülen had established local chapters for the Association for Fighting Communism in Turkey. Back then, political Islamists, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were the members of Association for Fighting Communism. During the Cold War era, the anti-communist organization was one of the prominent projects designed for Turkey and came to be associated with CIA-supported counterinsurgency operations.
Pekin also stated, in another interview, that "the Chief of General Staff ordered for Fethullah Gülen to be released when he was caught after the September 12  coup, and then he was released".
"Complaints about Gülenists were ignored because the state was using these men at that time," he added.
Gülen had been a close ally of Erdoğan, helping him to redesign and install his Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) in power in 2002. But his alliance with the AKP has faltered in recent years. On 15 July 2016, CIA-linked Gülen network, which is also an Islamic cult, attempted to topple down Erdoğan by a military coup but it failed.