Fethullah Gulen

Turkey: Gulen ‘Islamic Cult’ May Be Coming to U.S. Military Bases

Charter schools that may soon be operating on military bases in the United States are linked to what the Turkish government describes as an Islamic cult run by Fethullah Gülen, a powerful cleric living in Pennsylvania. The allegations come from lawyer Robert R. Amsterdam, founder of international law firm Amsterdam and Partners LLP, writing at The Hill. As Amsterdam forthrightly discloses early in the piece, his firm has been “engaged by the Republic of Turkey – a key NATO ally in a hotbed region – to conduct a wide-ranging investigation into the operations and geopolitical influence of the Gülen organization, which is behind the Coral Academy of Science and over 140 other public charter schools scattered across 26 American states.” This is a reference to the Muslim cleric Gülen, whom Amsterdam describes as “a reclusive but influential Imam living under self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania to avoid criminal prosecution in his native Turkey.” Gülen is a powerful and determined opponent of the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Coral Academy of Science in Las Vegas is negotiating with the United States Air Force to open a charter school at Nellis Air Force Base this fall. Amsterdam says his firm’s investigation revealed that the Gülen organization “uses charter schools and affiliated businesses in the U.S. to misappropriate and launder state and federal education dollars, which the organization then uses for its own benefit to develop political power in this country and globally.” He also alleges that the organization abuses the H1-B visa program to import Turkish teachers into the United States, improbably claiming there are no qualified American teachers available for the positions, and then controls these Turkish educators by holding their visas hostage, even using the threat of deportation to force salary kickbacks from the teachers. Amsterdam says that contributions, both voluntary and coerced, from Gülen’s estimated six million followers around the world give his organization assets worth $20 billion to $50 billion. Amsterdam describes the schools’ secret agenda as trying to “instill Turkish culture and Gülenist ideology in our American students,” with an eye toward creating “a Gülenist following of high achievers, incubated in our local community schools across the country.” He says this agenda has been pursued by Gülenist schools in other countries and warns, “there is great peril in allowing it to flourish in this country,” noting that Gülen’s organization has been described by international authorities as a cross between a secretive political movement and a cult. There is little doubt that Gülen has great influence in Turkey and has been fighting a political war against the Erdogan government, with many Turkish news stories ultimately tracing back to Gülen, although the international press does not always mention him. For example, the Turkish government’s recent crackdown on several news agencies is part of the Erdogan-Gülen war, as Erdogan has accused them of having ties to Gülen. Zaman, for example, a formerly anti-Erdogan publication, was accused of having ties to Gulen before being seized and turned into a newspaper that now runs headlines like “Praise Heaped on Erdogan! The Most Courageous Leader.” “Erdogan accuses Gülen of conspiring to overthrow the government by building a network of supporters in the judiciary, police and media. Gülen denies the charges,” the UK Guardian reported in early March, echoing the accusations leveled by Amsterdam at The Hill. Amsterdam cites estimates that Gülen’s network of schools, and the followers they indoctrinated, ultimately gave him control over “more than half of the entire Turkish police force.” As the Guardian recalls, it was a corruption investigation in 2013 by “police and prosecutors seen as sympathetic to Gülen,” targeting Erdogan’s inner circle, that kicked off the feud between the former political allies. Gülen was in the Turkish headlines again on Thursday, as Hurriyet Daily News reports the Turkish General Staff denying that “some members of the military allegedly linked to the Fethullah Gülen movement were planning a coup d’état” while Erdogan is visiting the United States. The General Staff further accused media outlets floating such speculation of seeking to undermine the morale of the armed forces and said it would take legal action against them. Given that one of the outlets in question is Newsweek, the prospects of such legal action succeeding seem remote. One opposition party politician insisted that Turkey’s political system is too strong to suffer a coup and offered the rather circular argument that if Gülen’s operation — which he referred to as the “Fethullahist Terror Organization” or FETO — was strong enough to pull off a coup, they would not need one; in essence, they would be able to take over the government without the fireworks of attempting to overthrow the Turkish armed forces. The Gülen movement prefers to be known as “Hizmet,” and through its news portal on March 25, it published an editorial from Gülen strongly denouncing the Brussels terror attack. “Regardless of the perpetrators and their stated purposes, every terrorist attack is a murder and an attack on the sanctity of life itself, and deserves condemnation in the strongest terms. Neither a religion nor any human being with a conscience can condone such cruelty,” he wrote. “Those who carry out such attacks and who support the perpetrators are oblivious to the ethos of the religion that they proclaim, and inflict the biggest damage to the religion’s reputation in the world. Those who consciously perpetrate such acts have lost touch with their very humanity, and do not represent any religious identity.” Such sentiments are unlikely to alleviate the suspicions of Gülen’s critics, who charge that his influence is a national security threat. “In light of Gülen’s modus operandi elsewhere, the Department of Homeland Security should be asking itself why such a non-transparent, religion-based organization would seek to establish itself on our military bases, teaching the children of our service men and women,” Amsterdam concludes at The Hill.

How crazy is this?!?  I’ve spent some time at Nellis AFB in Vegas..  and I’m pretty sure military parents there would not want their kids being exposed to this..

Mystery surrounds Muslim cleric in US mountain compound

The influential Muslim cleric lives quietly on a gated 26-acre compound in the Pocono Mountains, where he prays, works, meets admirers and watches from afar as terrorism accusations that have landed him on Turkey’s most-wanted list unfold in court. Rarely seen in public, Fethullah Gulen has long been one of Turkey’s most important scholars, with multitudes of followers in his native country and around the world. More recently, Turkey’s increasingly autocratic president, Recip Erdogan, has accused Gulen of plotting to overthrow the officially secular government from his Pennsylvania idyll some 5,000 miles away. Gulen’s supporters call the charge baseless and, so far, the U.S. has shown little inclination to send him back to Turkey to face a trial that began without him Jan. 6 and is expected to last several months. A second trial, involving accusations that his movement took part in espionage, opened Monday. If the reclusive leader worries about the possibility of deportation, he hasn’t shared it with confidants, they say. “He said that the United States has a long tradition of democracy and rule of law,” said Y. Alp Aslandogan, who sees Gulen about once a week as president of the New York-based Alliance for Shared Values, a group that promotes Gulen’s ideas. “They will see that these are politically oriented charges, and they will not allow Erdogan to spread his ambition into the United States.” Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment on Gulen’s case. Gulen’s followers run a loosely affiliated global network of charitable foundations, professional associations, businesses and other projects, including about 150 taxpayer-funded charter schools throughout the U.S. But details about Gulen’s personal life and his ties to those ventures have long been murky, giving rise to suspicions about his motives. Some of the U.S. schools have been investigated by the FBI amid allegations of financial mismanagement and visa fraud. One of the most explosive claims, leveled by a lawyer who is representing the Turkish government in a U.S. lawsuit against Gulen, is that the schools are importing Turkish teachers to identify impressionable students and indoctrinate them into Gulen’s movement, sometimes called Hizmet, Turkish for “service.” Nobody associated with the U.S. schools has been charged, and there has been no public outcry from parents or students about teachers promoting Islam, Gulen’s supporters say. In America, the schools are public and open to students of all faiths. “Try proselytizing evangelical Christians in the center of Texas. See what happens,” Aslandogan said. “Anybody who knows American society and climate today would know that’s a ridiculous claim.” In any event, he said, Gulen has nothing to do with the schools’ finances or operation. Trained as an imam, or prayer leader, Gulen gained notice in Turkey some 50 years ago, promoting a philosophy that blended a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue. Supporters started 1,000 schools in more than 100 countries. In Turkey, they have run universities, hospitals, charities, a bank and a large media empire with newspapers and radio and TV stations. But the extent of Gulen’s reach is shrouded in such mystery that Loyola University Maryland sociologist Joshua Hendrick, who has studied and written about him, estimates his following at anywhere from 500,000 to 4 million people. “I think deep down in the hearts of these people, they want to create a better world, a world of peace, a world of respect,” said University of Houston sociologist Helen Rose Ebaugh, who traveled the world studying the Gulen movement’s finances and aims. “I saw no indication they are after power or creating any kind of (Islamic) state.” In 2000, a year after traveling to the United States to seek medical treatment, Gulen was charged by Turkish authorities with leading an Islamist plot to overthrow the regime. He was acquitted after a trial in absentia. Now, after a public split with Erdogan, he is facing more trials. This time, the Turkish government contends Gulen has been running a parallel state by getting his followers into key police and court positions to instigate a 2013 corruption probe that targeted people close to Erdogan. Prosecutors also contend Gulen-affiliated police officers conspired against an Islamic group and used the group as justification to conduct illegal wiretaps. Erdogan’s government has branded the movement a “terror organization,” though it is not known to have committed any acts of violence. “The grain of truth, which we don’t deny, is that yes, there are some sympathizers in every government institution. But to claim that there is a parallel entity, or there is a mastermind or puppeteer, is simply an empty claim,” Aslandogan said. A continent away, Gulen, who is in his mid-70s, lives like a monk on the grounds of the Golden Generation Worship & Retreat Center, an Islamic retreat founded by Turkish-Americans. He spends hours a day in prayer and meditation and goes out rarely, mostly to see doctors for ailments that include heart disease and diabetes, according to Aslandogan. During a tour last week, an Associated Press reporter visited Gulen’s book-lined living quarters, where shelves hold jars filled with soil from various regions of Turkey. The reporter was unable to see the cleric. He was in another building on the compound and declined to be interviewed.

Interesting…  Definitely something to keep an eye on..