By Tufan Aktas
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) – Again proving itself an international threat, the terrorist group behind the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey used schools in Ethiopia set up through charitable donations as cash cows, illegally stripping them of their assets.
Documents on schools managed by the Fetullah Terror Organization (FETO), submitted to Ethiopian prosecutors on Friday and seen by Anadolu Agency, tell the story.
On Friday former employees of Ethiopian FETO-linked schools filed a complaint against school administrators and teachers on allegations including the theft of aid money, embezzlement, and tax evasion, said sources, speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
The documents show that the terror group had been operating schools under the Omeriye Educational and Medical Foundation Charitable Trust label, but then in 2009 sold all the schools’ assets to a company called Kaynak.
The schools had been set up using donations meant for charitable purposes.
The sale took place even though under Ethiopian law, the assets of charitable trusts cannot be handed over to a private company.
– ‘Charitable trust’ language omitted
The school campus grounds in the town of Sebeta in the Oromia state were sold by Erol Dede on behalf of the charity to Murat Yildirim, acting on behalf of Kaynak.
Some 21,000 square meters of land belonging to the charity were sold for 110,000 Turkish liras ($18,160), and a school in Nifas Silk-Lafto was sold for 380,000 Turkish liras ($62,736).
The documents show that the phrase “charitable trust” was omitted from the copy of the sales contract in the local Oromian language, showing the illegality of the transaction.
– Same group runs schools in Kenya
Meanwhile, the terror group has another charity under the same name in the east African country of Kenya, just south of Ethiopia.
The Omeriye Educational and Medical Foundation, founded in 1998, is still operating FETO schools called Light Academy as well as the KYM Afya Hospital in Kenya.
Former employees, who asked not to be named due to security concerns, accused the group of many offenses, including embezzlement, forgery, and tax fraud.
The FETO-linked company Kaynak illegally sold FETO-linked foundations to Stem, a FETO corporation in Ethiopia, after Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome announced last year that FETO schools would be handed over Turkey.
Turkey set up the Maarif Foundation to run FETO-linked schools after taking them from the hands of the terror group.
-Defeated coup, schools abroad
FETO has been accused elsewhere of moving around its assets around in shell games to protect its illegal gains from prosecutors, as shown in a 2016 case in the U.S. state of New Jersey also involving schools.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
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, and education.
FETO also has a considerable presence outside Turkey, including private educational institutions that serve as a revenue stream for the terrorist group.