As the very first Jewish Messianic Terror example in history, Zealots had used Messianism as the legitimization tool for their terror. While Assassins represent a prominent example of Messianic Terror in the 13th century of the East, the Crusaders have marked the world history of the Middle Ages with Christianity motivated terror. We have seen the same motives during the French Revolution in the 18th century. In almost all centuries, the concept of messianism had been used either to legitimize violent actions or attract more supporters, dedicated members or most recently, devoted suicide bombers.
Recently, terrorism studies concerned with “New Religious Cults, Sects or New Religious Movements”, are mostly, associated with religious messianic and apocalyptic cults. In order to justify their illegitimate activities, these groups attribute their actions to divine motivations, mission of prophecy and messianic entity. As they take advantage of the spiritual needs and goodwill of individuals they can transform into terrorist groups and these groups; “messianic cults” can pose the same amount of threat or higher to public and state security.
The Fetullah Gülen Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) is a hierarchically organized international network and its leader Fetullah Gülen has absolute command and direct control over the entire structure. His followers act as a secretive and clandestine network loyal to his instructions as an unquestionable and divine authority. With these aspects, the organization contains strong messianic notions. For half a century Gülenists infiltrated the Turkish bureaucracy, including military judiciary and security establishments, while conducting business and education activities related to Turkey around the world. Especially from 2013 on, FETÖ openly and directly carried out unconventional, unresting and asymmetric attacks against the state and regime security of Turkey, which are not to be confined as acts of an ordinary religious network, as disclosing its real objectives. Finally, a pro-FETÖ junta in the army attempted a coup attempt on 15 July 2016, resulting in several hundred deaths and leaving many wounded. These experiences show the need to better define and categorize FETÖ and its engagement with terrorism.
This book conceptualizes FETÖ as a messianic cult that evolved into a terrorist organization.
Throughout the history, the concept of “messianism” has not only been used to influence members of religion but was also used as an effective instrument to gain political power. Aside from it, it was a leverage to legitimize terror through instigators. As studies have shown, there are examples to exert relations between messianism and terror.