Secretive Turkish Movement Buys U.S. Influence

Fethullah Gülen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pa., last September. Reuters

Fethullah Gülen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pa., last September. Reuters

By :

HOUSTON — The secretive religious and political movement inspired by the Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen has become a potent, and surprising, force in a set of obscure races for the House of Representatives, as Gülen sympathizers around the country donate tens of thousands of dollars to an overlapping set of candidates.

The movement, whose leader draws intense interest from Washington to Ankara from his compound in rural Pennsylvania, has long involved itself in American life, organizing in particular around a group of charter schools and Turkish community institutions. Started in Turkey as a moderate Islamic movement in the secular 1960s and 1970s, the movement — also known as Hizmet, roughly meaning “service” in Turkish — runs schools, businesses, and media outlets around the world. There is no formal membership: Affiliates say they are “inspired” by Gülen and many groups aligned with him deny any official affiliation.

But the movement’s agenda, in Turkey, has clarified in recent months. Gülen — who left Turkey for the Poconos in 1999 following charges that he was attempting to undermine the Turkish state — broke bitterly with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year over a corruption investigation that has rocked Erdogan’s party and that the prime minister has blamed on Gülen and his followers.

Here in the United States, meanwhile, Gülen’s allies have been stepping up their involvement in U.S. politics, emerging as a force in districts from South Texas to South Brooklyn. Liberal Democrats like Yvette Clarke, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Al Green, and conservative Republicans like Ted Poe and Pete Olson have all benefitted from donors affiliated with Gülen in one way or another.

Leaders in the movement deny that there is any top-down organization of the donations (or, indeed, that the Gülen movement has any organization at all), but the patterns of giving suggest some level of coordination in a community beginning to flex its political muscle. Gülen himself reportedly told followers in 2010 that they could only visit him in the Poconos if they donated to their local congressman, according to the Wall Street Journal, though Gülen has denied the comment.

The donations, taken together, comprise significant totals for some U.S. House members in relatively safe seats. For instance, people connected to the Gülen-inspired charter schools donated $23,000 to Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in October 2013 — a large sum considering Jackson Lee has raised just more than $130,000 this cycle in individual contributions, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Read more at Buzz Feed

Shocking Allegations About Ohio Charter Schools Tied to Controversial Turkish Leader

FBIRAidBy PAULA BOLYARD:

On the heels of an FBI raid of several Horizon-Concept charter schools in Ohio, several former teachers and employees have come forward to make shocking allegations of inflated test scores and falsified attendance records, racist and sexist behavior by Turkish teachers and administrators, and sexual harassment and abuse that went unreported by administrators. At a State Board of Education meeting last week, former employees described not only low educational standards, but also an atmosphere of intimidation — American teachers feared Turkish administrators who fired teachers at the first sign of disloyalty while Turkish teachers were promoted, often despite poor job performance. The charter schools, associated with the Turkish Gülen movement and its controversial leader, Fethullah Gülen, promote Turkish language and culture and many of the schools are known for their academic excellence.

Richard Storrick, who taught at Horizon Science Dayton High School for two and a half years, told members of the state school board about a “sex game” that went on in the middle school classroom of a Turkish teacher, saying that standards differ “whether you are from Turkish descent or of American descent.” Storrick said that no action was taken when the director of the school was informed about the game and in fact, the teacher was re-hired the next year and given additional responsibilities.

Storrick also said that Turkish students were treated differently than American students. “If you were a Turkish student, you knew you could get away with misbehavior, including fighting, and be back the next day. Turkish students were permitted to skip class or school with no repercussions,” Storrick said. Turkish teachers called African American students “dogs” and “monkeys.” Another teacher at the same school, Timothy Neary added, “Racism was an issue. Black kids would be disciplined much more severely than Turkish students. If there was a fight in school, the Turkish students would be back the next day. Many of the black students would get severe consequences.” He also said that sexism was a problem. “It was almost gross how they’d talk to women. They’d tell them to not talk or cut them off in midpoint,” Neary said, adding that the majority of teachers fired were women.

Kelly Kochensparger, who served as the Dayton charter school’s public communications director in addition to her teaching duties, said that middle school students were caught on tape engaging in oral sex. School administrators notified neither the parents nor the authorities, preferring to focus on maintaining the school’s positive image instead, she said.

gulem_schools_in_us

Matt Blair, a former teacher at the Horizon Academy in Dayton, alleged that there was cheating on state achievement tests. “School officials were filling in bubbles on standardized tests. They claimed that it was because students didn’t fill in circles dark enough.” Richard Neary, who taught at the same school said, “Even though standardized tests are supposed to be taken and locked in a secure place, that did not always occur, if ever.” Neary added, “All the tests would go into one room, with one Turkish administrator behind a locked door and nobody would ever see the tests again.” Board member Mary Rose Oakar noted that most of the Concept schools had very high test scores. “If would be very disturbing if there was cheating going on to get these ratings,” she said.

Neary also said he suspected the school was falsifying attendance records. “School administrators clearly lied about attendance. I can honestly tell you never once did I have a full classroom with my roster with every single student, yet they reported to you a 97% attendance rate,” he said. “I guess that’s an easy one to fudge.”

State Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering), who was in attendance at the state school board meeting, asked what percentage of the teachers were Turkish, noting that she had never seen any during her visits to the schools. One of the teachers explained, “They come over on visas that say they need to teach math and science. Yet they’re teaching gym, they’re treasurers, they’re administrators, they’re guidance counselors, they’re IT. Since when did we have a lack of gym teachers in the state of Ohio?” he asked. One teacher explained, “Sometimes they hide behind — I’m being honest — in closets that are made into offices. So no, you wouldn’t have seen them. And many times when people — dignitaries — come in and things like that , they would ask one of [the American teachers] to be the hand shakers and introduce people and talk.”.

Read more at PJ Media

Crackdown in Turkey: Erdogan Criminalizes Leaks, Seeks Extradition of US Cleric Gulen

erdogan_turkey_APBy Frances Martel:

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has expanded the powers of Turkey’s secret service and granted agents immunity, while the government plans to pass a bill that would sentence journalists to ten years in prison for publishing leaks. The moves come as Erdogan cracks down on opposition forces accusing him of corruption.

The BBC reports that Erdogan’s new laws would give Turkey’s secret service, known as MIT, extensive surveillance powers to monitor opposition groups in the country. It would allow for significantly freer intelligence gathering and encourage counterintelligence operations against enemies of the government, which opposition leaders in the legislature vehemently oppose.

The law would also gives MIT agents expanded immunity powers relating specifically to MIT work that requires some skirting of the law.

The particularly controversial proposal in the bill is a proposal to allow judges to sentence journalists for up to ten years for publishing leaked information brought to them by whistleblowers, including video or audio tapes. This provision follows the release of a number of audio tapes allegedly of phone calls Erdogan has made, including a particularly controversial one posted on social media in which it appears Erdogan and his son are scheming to hide large sums of money.

The BBC notes that these laws, following attempts by Erdogan to ban social media vehicles like YouTube and Twitter, are receiving significant pushback from opposition leaders. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, warned that Turkey could become an “intelligence state” under the new provisions, even more so than some in the opposition argue the state currently is.

Erdogan also announced that Turkey has begun proceedings to extradite Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish citizen living in exile in Pennsylvania. Gulen’s teachings are said to have fueled the opposition into organizing against Erdogan, and the president considers him an enemy, after the government accused Gulen of inappropriate Islamic activities.

Speaking to Charlie Rose, Erdogan said that Gulen was involved in “an effort to take away some power, and these efforts involved the security forces and judiciary.” These efforts, he added, “were unacceptable to me” because they were an attempt to stage a coup. He added that “the first step that they took was against the secretary of the national intelligence agency,” implying that this agency more than any needed to be protected from the opposition.

Erdogan went on to say that he fully expected the United States to cooperate and extradite Gulen, as a threat to his government would be a threat to any government. “These elements which threaten the national security of Turkey cannot be allowed to exist in other countries because what they do to us here, they might do against their host,” Erdogan said,according to transcripts. He also relied on what he considered a positive relationship with Washington to see the extradition happen.

HOLTON: Islamic Radicals Mount Influence Operation On Louisiana Leges

“You must move in the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your existence until you reach all the power centers… until the conditions are ripe, they [the followers] must continue like this.  If they do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads, and Muslims will suffer everywhere…”

- ​​​​​​Fethullah Gulen

reception-save-the-date-april-21Later this month, organizations affiliated with the Turkish-based Gulenist Islamist movement will hold a reception lobbying Louisiana’s lawmakers.

Why would a Turkish-based Islamist movement seek to lobby lawmakers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA? For the same reason they have conducted similar influence operations in almost every state capitol in the United States.

The Gulenist Islamist movement is a 25 billion dollar empire that raises money partially through membership dues and partially through commercial activities, such as their Shariah-compliant bank, their Shariah-compliant insurance company, a media empire consisting of TV networksnews agencies, and news magazinesindustrial trade organizationsuniversities, and a network of 1300 schools in the US, Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

The Gulenist movement’s main focus in the US has been its network of schools, two of which have operated here in the state of Louisiana:

• Abramson school in New Orleans, which had its charter revoked and was shut down in the midst of public bribery and misconduct allegations.

• Kenilworth Science and Technology Academy in Baton Rouge, which was raided by the FBI late last year and is the target of a federal investigation.

By now you’re wondering what the Gulenist movement is, no doubt. The Gulenist movement is a secretive, controversial Islamist movement founded by Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Islamic scholar with a controversial history and a great many followers and admirers in both the Islamic and Western worlds. However, a close analysis of Gulen and his movement reveals what may very well be a disturbing threat, rather than the benign movement that many suppose. (Gulen fled Turkey for the US in 1998 and settled in a massive, fortified compound in rural Pennsylvania.)

Gulen preaches peace on the one hand – while on the other hand credible reports indicate that the Gulenist movement controls the secret police in Turkey, which has been key to brutally suppressing recent pro-democracy protests there. But Gulen’s primary relevance to Americans comes from something quite peculiar – namely, the fact that his movement is associated with roughly 1,200 schools in numerous countries around the globe, including approximately 135 schools here in the USA. The American Gulenist schools are mostly taxpayer-subsidized charter schools and there is much to be concerned about, both in terms of their goals and operations. And Americans – and in particular those Americans charged with credentialing these schools – know scant little about with whom they’re dealing.

In reviewing the long-form literature on Fethullah Gulen, without exception, every single book about Gulen paints him in a positive, almost saint-like light. In order to fully grasp the man and his motivations, one has to read his own work – the most troubling and revealing of which is his 1998 book Prophet Muhammad as Commander.

While much of the book details the life of Muhammad as a military commander and political leader, the opening sections of the book reveal more about the author than they reveal about Muhammad, about whom much is already known and documented. The first 37 pages of Prophet Muhammad as Commander contain revealing, troubling passages that provide a window on Fethullah Gulen’s views on Jihad and warfare.

In Prophet Muhammad as Commander, Gulen explains Muslim hostility toward non-Muslims in a similar manner that most non-Muslims will find at least very curious:

“For this reason, a Muslim’s enmity towards unbelievers is, in fact, in the form of pitying them.”

Gulen ties this pity in with the concept of “compassion.” Unbelievers who deny that Allah is the only god and that Muhammad was his prophet are thought to be committing an “injustice.” Out of “compassion” for those unbelievers and to prevent them from committing further injustice, Muslims have enmity towards them and in some cases fight them as enemies.

Jihad as a concept fits in with justice. In fact, according to Gulen (page 20), Jihad is integral to justice:

“God does not approve wrongdoing and disorder. He wills that human beings should live in peace and, accordingly, that justice should prevail amongst them. It is therefore incumbent upon those who believe in One God and worship Him faithfully to secure justice in the world. Islam calls this responsibility jihad.”

Gulen then goes on to explain the various forms of jihad, including warfare.

Read more at The Hayride

Center for American Progress Joins Gulen Cult in Turning on Turkey’s Erdogan

Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan attends a wreath-laying ceremony in AnkaraBy Daniel Greenfield:

This really is a bipartisan challenge and I don’t mean a bunch of former congressmen from both parties but people like John Bolton and Dennis Ross. The Center for American Progress has backed this which is somewhat shocking considering it had a habit of insisting that Turkey was a model Muslim democracy.

CAP is hugely influential in Obama Inc, but I still expect absolutely nothing to come of this. Obama doesn’t stand up to Muslim tyrannies. He bows before them.

Still this does suggest that maybe the left is rethinking its knee jerk support for Turkey’s Islamist tyranny. That’s a step in the right direction.

More than 80 top foreign policy figures from across the political spectrum wrote President Obama Thursday and asked him to end the U.S. government’s tacit approval of what they describe as the anti-democratic actions of Turkish Prime Minister Racep Tayyip Erdogan and his government.

“Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is increasingly undermining a central pillar of the decades-long, strategic U.S.-Turkish partnership:  Turkey’s growing democracy,” reads the letter, organized by the right-leaning Foreign Policy Initiative, the left-leaning Center for American Progress, the Bipartisan Policy Center, and Freedom House. “We are writing because of our deep dismay at this development and to urge you to make clear to the Turkish public America’s concern about Turkey’s current path. Silence will only encourage Prime Minister Erdoğan to diminish the rule of law in the country even further.”

The letter was signed by several former Obama administration officials including White House senior director Dennis Ross, State Department policy planning director Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Julianne Smith, an advisor to the Vice President. Republican signatories include Ambassador John Bolton, Sen. Norm Coleman, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol.

According to the experts and former officials, Obama has been turning a blind eye to Erdogan’s descent into autocracy.  In their opinion, this alarming trend in Turkey has accelerated since last summer, when Turkish authorities used a heavy hand to disperse street protests and Erdogan denounced the protestors as “looters” while blaming foreign conspirators for the unrest.

Erdogan is also actively trying to cover up a huge corruption scandal which has engulfed his government since December, according to the letter. The Turkish Prime Minister has dismissed or reassigned thousands of prosecutors and police officers involved in the scandal, which ties Turkish government officials and even Erdogan’s son through shady business deals with Iran and al Qaeda.

The Erdogan govenrment has also imposed restrictions on internet freedom and freedom of the press. A new law would allow the government to block any website that has “insulting” content and Turkey still holds more journalists in prison than any other nation in the world.

Top Obama administration officials have made it very clear they have no intention of commenting, much less getting involved in Turkey’s internal turmoil. Last month, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and promised Washington wouldn’t interfere.

“We did also talk about the importance of both of our commitments to rule of law and to democracy and to the process of both of our countries respecting each other’s political process,” said Kerry at the time. “And I think the minister understood and made it clear that the United States of America has absolutely no interest in being caught up in or engaged in or involved in the internal politics, the election process of Turkey. And we are not.”

Kerry’s statements are absolutely outrageous, but not surprising, though ridiculously hypocritical in light of Obama Inc’s interference in Egypt.

Read more at Front Page

Possible Repercussions From Turkey’s Corruption Scandal

Israelis: NATO Ally Turkey Now Hamas’ Top Funder

Turkey: Are Erdoğan’s Days Numbered?

by Harold Rhode:

It appears that the Islamic Gülenists and the secular Atatürkists — not friends in the past — have forged an alliance and are now ascendant.

Major political events have rocked the political scene in Turkey the past two weeks. Turkey’s once seemingly-invincible prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, seems in a tailspin. A few days ago, he lashed out at U.S. Ambassador Frank Ricciardone and threatened to expel him from Turkey. Erdoğan claimed the Ambassador told other Western diplomats that the “empire [Erdoğan and his associates] is about to fall.[1]

Clearly, Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s policy of “Zero Problems With Our Neighbors” — meaning the alliance with Turkey’s Sunni-ruled Arab neighbors — has failed. Turkey now has problems with almost all its neighbors. It appears that the Gülenists and the Atatürkists — not friends in the past — are now ascendant. It is unlikely that they, or whoever might take over in Turkey, would want to continue this failed approach.

 

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L), and Fethullah Gülen. (Image source: World Economic Forum [Erdoğan] — Diyar se/WikiMedia Commons [Gülen])

Long-brewing political struggles within the ruling AK party have also surfaced. They boil down to two radically different views of Islam. In the first, Erdoğan’s faction identifies and allies itself with the [Arab] Muslim Brotherhood. This faction was strongly supportive of the ousted Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi, and also of Syria’s fundamentalists. In the second view, supporters of the Fethullah Gülen look down upon “Arab Islam.” To them, “real” Islam is “the Islam of the Turks – meaning the people who live in Turkey, Central Asia, and Western China.”[2] [3]

To the outsider, these differences might seem to be distinctions without differences: supporters of both views understandably want Islam to be a major part of the political order. But for Turks, these differences are seismic: the question is, do they belong to the Middle Eastern Arab and Muslim political camp, or do they belong to the wider Turkish world?

Since Erdoğan and his fellow Islamic fundamentalists took power in 2002, Gülen and his forces have been in the background, building prep-schools and propagating their version of Islam — in Turkey, in the Turkic world, and also in America. It is not surprising that when Gülen faced legal difficulties in Turkey[4] in 1999, he fled to the U.S., ostensibly for medical treatment, apparently still ongoing.[5]

On May 31, 2010, Erdoğan’s government backed and encouraged a flotilla of Turkish ships supposedly to bring needed supplies to the Gaza Strip, ruled by their fellow Muslim Brotherhood fundamentalists, Hamas. Gülen may have seen this as an opportunity indirectly publicly to chastise Erdoğan. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal[6], Gülen argued that as Israel legitimately controlled the waters off Gaza, the flotilla should have asked for Israel’s permission to land there. Gülen did not criticize Erdoğan directly; people rarely criticize others directly in Turkey. But culturally, his choice of words indicated to Turks that he was blamed Erdoğan for creating the crisis.

Gülen has not been known to be supportive of the Jews, nor for that matter of the U.S. or the West.[7] But now in his battle is evidently to ensure that Turkish Islam defeats the so-called Arab-Muslim Brotherhood type of Islam supported by Erdoğan, the Jews and the West might well seem useful allies. As many Middle Easterners say, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” A friendship, or alliance, might be temporary, but may continue as long as required.[8]

Read more at Gatestone Institute

 

Erdogan’s AKP Party Rocked By Scandal: Who’s Behind It?

Edogan

Some analysts are saying that, because of this corruption scandal, either Erdogan or what remains of democracy will exit from Turkey.

BY LONNA LISA WILLIAMS:

No one is sure who is behind the corruption inquiries that have been rocking Turkey the past week and upsetting Prime Minister Erdogan’s AKP Party, but there are several theories.

Islamist Prime Minister Erdogan of the AKP (“white”) Party closed down the private language schools of powerful exiled Islamic cleric Fetullah Gulen. Then, to everyone’s surprise (even Erdogan’s), top leaders in the AKP Party found their families being investigated.

Erdogan called this an attack against his government and implicated Fetullah Gulen as being behind the sudden corruption inquiries that landed top government officials, bank presidents, and even billionaire builders in jail.

Gulen denied involvement in the “operation” (as it’s being called in the Turkish news).

No one really knows what is happening right now in Turkey. The U.S. is calling this “a family fight” and doesn’t want to be dragged into it. Whoever is behind this scandal, the fact remains that lots of money is involved.

Photos of cash, huge safes and even ATM machines stashed in the houses of top Turkish leaders have circulated the internet. Erdogan struck back by firing dozens of police officers and even police chiefs across Turkey, including the one in charge of Istanbul.

Gulen cursed this act of firing police officers (and, it seems, in doing so cursed the one responsible for the acts—Erdogan himself). On one of his websites Gulen wrote, ” . . . Those who don’t see the thief but go after those trying to catch the thief, who don’t see the murder but try to defame others by accusing innocent people—let God bring fire to their houses, ruin their homes, break their unities.”

“Maybe the CHP [the main opposition party] is at least partly behind this,” one Turkish man told me. “They are Ataturk’s party and don’t want to see his ideals of secular democracy betrayed. They also want closer ties to Europe and the human rights it offers. Too many Turks now sit in prison simply for speaking or writing what Erdogan doesn’t like. They don’t want to see Turkey become an Islamic state like Erdogan envisions. They don’t want to be dragged back to the time of the sultans.”

Read more at Clarion Project

U.S. Charter School of Influential, Turkish Islamist Raided by FBI

Gulen School“You must move in the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your existence until you reach all the power centers … If they [Muslim allies] do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads … you must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the Constitutional institutions in Turkey.” Fethullah Gulen

By Ryan Mauro:

The FBI raided a Turkish-run charter school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana yesterday. No information has been given to the public except that there is no threat to public safety. The school is part of the network of Fethullah Gulen, a powerful Turkish Islamist residing in Pennsylvania.

fgThe search took place at Kenilworth Science and Technology Charter School, which had been under investigation since 2011 due to evidence of violations at another Gulen school in the state. Both Gulen-linked schools are part of the Pelican Educational Foundation.

The other school is the Abramson Science and Technology Center. Its charter was revoked by the state after an investigation found multiple disturbing incidents, including sexual abuses including an accusation of rape.

“We cannot afford to have a charter school operator in Louisiana that is putting our kids in a potentially unsafe and unstable learning environment,” said Ollie Tyler, the Acting State Superintendent of Education.

Inci Akpinar, a business associate of the Abramson Center even tried to bribe an official of the Louisiana Department of Education after the probe started.

“I have $25,000 to fix this problem: $20,000 for you and $5,000 for me,” the official recalled being told.

The findings at the Abramson Center led to an investigation of the Kenilworth School.

Kenilworth was accused of misconduct in two lawsuits, one by a parent and the other by two terminated teachers. The parent stated that her child urinated on herself after she was repeatedly denied permission to go to the bathroom. The teachers argue that they were fired because of discrimination.

Gulen is ranked as the most influential Muslim in the U.S. and the 11th most influential Muslim in the world. He fled to the U.S. in 1998 after the Turkish government charged him with trying to overthrow its secularism.

He has erected a parallel state in Turkey and was instrumental in enabling the Islamist takeover of the country. Gulen has since had afalling out with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. Leaked documents show Erdogan’s government planned to act against Gulen’s network in Turkey.

Glen resides in a 28-acre compound in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania and has a reported net worth of $25 billion. He set up his first charter school in the U.S. in 1999 and now has 135 of them, making it the largest charter school network in the country.

Sharon Higgins, a researcher who closely follows the Gulen network, wrote a thoroughly referenced article about the network in theWashington Post in March 2012. The article states that “the United States is the only country where the Gulen Movement has been able to establish schools which are fully funded with public money.”

Read more at Clarion Project

Turkey’s Gülen Movement: Between Social Activism and Politics

[Left: Fethullah Gülen, from Diyar Muhammed, via Flickr; right: Prime Minister Erdoğan, from World Economic Forum via Flickr.]

[Left: Fethullah Gülen, from Diyar Muhammed, via Flickr; right: Prime Minister Erdoğan, from World Economic Forum via Flickr.]

By Bayram Balci:

Since its election in 2002, the ruling Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP), under the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has transformed Turkey. The reforms initiated by this conservative government with Islamic roots have amounted to a passive revolution—they have profoundly altered Turkish society, modernized its institutions, and strengthened its economy, which is now the sixteenth-largest in the world in terms of GDP.

Yet it would be a mistake to attribute the many successes that have enhanced Turkey’s role as a major regional and international player to AKP leadership alone. Erdoğan’s government has enjoyed support from a number of political organizations as well as from influential religious and social forces within Turkey. The most invaluable, but also the hardest to assess, is a movement that plays a fundamental role in Turkey’s social and religious life: the Gülen movement of Fethullah Gülen, referred to by the terms cemaat or hizmet.

The AKP and the Gülen movement established an alliance in 2002 based on a common desire to push back the central role of the military in the country and create a new, more conservative, and more Muslim Turkey. Each brought different skills to the task—Erdoğan and his AKP colleagues were experienced in political activism and electoral politics, while the Gülen movement used education and social activism to promote its objectives. This alliance was not without disagreements, but until recently common interests outweighed differences.

During the past few months, however, tensions have deepened between Erdoğan and the Gülenists in the realms of both domestic and foreign policy, causing speculation that the alliance is headed for a fundamental break. There can be no doubt that rifts have emerged over a variety of issues, from the rising power of the Gülen movement to the increasingly authoritarian actions of the prime minister. But talk of a complete break may well be premature.

THE GÜLEN MOVEMENT

Fethullah Gülen emerged as a religious authority in Turkey in the 1970s, and little by little he became the spiritual leader of a vast community that now boasts an estimated 3 million sympathizers. Gülen, who moved to the United States in 1999, encourages his disciples to become modern, moderate Muslims. An adherent of free markets, he champions the Islamic faith and the spirit of capitalism. He is also a nationalist, seeking to boost Turkey’s influence and prestige abroad.

Gülen relies heavily on education to transmit his ideas, and he has formed a network of hundreds of schools and businesses worldwide. This network is active on every continent, including in the United States, where his sympathizers run approximately 130 charter schools, mainly in Texas.

He focuses his efforts on educating new generations and promoting the emergence of elites who are simultaneously pious, modern, patriotic, committed to globalization, and comfortable with economic success. Like the Jesuits and other missionaries who trained Turkey’s republican, Kemalist elites to value secularism and follow a Western path through the schools they founded at the end of the Ottoman Empire, Gülen aspires to use education to help forge new generation of Anatolian, conservative elites (or counterelites) that might play a key role in creating a modern, more openly Islamic Turkey.

Read more at Carnegie Endowment For International Peace (H/T Patrick Poole, @pspoole)

Protesters want Turkish Islamic cleric ousted

bildePocono Record, By Jenna Ebersole:

Protesters waved Turkish and American flags, chanted and played Turkish songs Saturday afternoon at a second peaceful protest this summer against Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen in Saylorsburg.

But this time, rather than scrambling for a place to stand after police told them they could not block Mount Eaton Road in July, protesters’ plans were more sophisticated.

A sound system and stage area gave speakers a platform, while portable toilets and coolers of soda for sale were available on the same field where they held their last protest several miles from the retreat center where Gülen lives.

Gülen has made his home in the Poconos since the 1990s and is a controversial, but well-known figure in Turkey. Supporters say he promotes living in harmony with people of different faiths and has inspired people around the globe, while critics treat his “movement” with suspicion.

The property owner at T&R Farm Shack declined comment Saturday, but representatives collected $10 per car and directed traffic as more than 100 protesters filed into the area with the enthusiasm they also brought in July.

Most of the protesters were Turkish American and many wore shirts with the Turkish flag and depictions of national secular hero Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

The protesters repeated earlier accusations against Gülen, arguing that he is connected to the government now leading Turkey and is seeking to Islamicize the country. Speakers also discussed charter schools affiliated with the movement across the U.S. and said Gülen is using American tax money to spread his message.

Umit Dikkaya came from New York City and joined friends. She wore a shirt proclaiming that she is proud to be from Turkey.

“We’re here to expose the reality about this Gülen movement,” she said.

Retired Admiral Turker Erturk came to speak from Istanbul and said he wanted to be part of the peaceful protest.

“I think our mission is to send a real message to the American people,” he said, exposing Gülen.

He spoke to the crowd, leading a chant of “We are Mustafa Kemal’s soldiers.” Attendee Sevtap Schreffler, from Washington D.C., translated his words and said the chant references Atatürk but demonstrates solidarity with all who fight for democracy.

A tattoo of Atatürk’s signature decorated Schreffler’s arm. She said to her, Atatürk represents freedom of religion and feminism.

“Gülen hates Atatürk,” she said. “They want to do away with everything he did.”

Representatives for Gülen released statements Saturday, once again countering each accusation and calling Erturk a well-known Communist in Turkey.

Sharon Higgins, of California, told protesters she has done extensive research on Gülen-affiliated charter schools in the U.S. She has said she favors public school districts against the privitization of education with charter schools.

The statement from the center said the schools are not religious and each began as an individual grassroots effort.

At the protest, Turgut Gozlev wore elaborate clothing and walked quietly with a large flag. He smoked a cigar while explaining he was born in Istanbul, but has lived in the U.S. for 45 years. He came from Philadelphia for the protest and said Gülen must go.

“I do miss Turkey,” he said. But, “this is my country. My children were born here.”

Also see:

More Dangerous than bin Laden? Protestors to Descend on Gulen’s Mountain Fortress in Pennsylvania

20100406_PaulWilliamsGulenCompoundby PAUL L. WILLIAMS, PHD:

A protest against Fethullah Gulen and his movement will take place on Saturday, August 31, at Logging Road in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. The rally is set to start at 2 p.m. and hundreds of Turkish Americans are expected to be in attendance.

The purpose of the event, according to organizer Armagan Yilmaz, is “to warn the American people” about Gulen, “a man even more dangerous than Osama Bin Laden.”

This description, Mr. Yilmaz insists, is not hyperbole. Gulen has been responsible for the transformation of secular Turkey into an Islamic state with 85,000 active mosques – – one for every 350- citizens – – the highest number per capita in the world, 90,000 imams, more imams than teachers and physicians – – and thousands of state-run Islamic schools.

Gulen accomplished this through the creation of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma, AKP) which now controls the Turkish government.

Within the past ten years, Mr. Yilmaz says, everyone who has opposed the militant Islamization of Turkey has been murdered or tossed into prison. Several Turks who escaped from the oppression are scheduled to speak at the gathering, including former Tirkish Admiral Turker Erturk and noted journalists and authors Baris Terkoglu and Baris Pehlivan.

20130828_FethullahGulenKuranYetimFethullah Gulen came to the United States in 1998 and settled in Saylorsburg after an arrest warrant on the charge of sedition was issued in his native Turkey.

Court records from his hearing for permanent U.S. residency show that his financial holdings are enormous, exceeding $25 billion. With these funds, he has established schools throughout Turkey and Central Asia to bring about his dream of “a New Islamic World Order.”

Several countries have outlawed the establishment of Gulen schools within their borders – – including Russia and Uzbekistan. Even the Netherlands, a nation that embraces pluralism and tolerance, has opted to cut funding to the Gulen schools because of their threat to the social order.

In recent years, Gulen has established over 140 charter schools – – all fully funded by U.S. taxpayers allegedly as a means of indoctrinating American students in his militant ideology.

“Under the pretext of being qualified teachers hundreds of unqualified disciples are brought from Turkey to the United States with an H1B visa to work at these schools,” Mr. Yilmaz says. “These teachers are to return 40% of their salaries to the movement in cash which then funds the movement. This way not only is the funding of the movement illegal but also tax fraud is committed.”

The thirty-four “Gulen-inspired” Harmony Schools throughout the Lone Star State have been established at an annual expense to Texas taxpayers of $68 million. The schools are operated by the Cosmos Foundation, a mysterious non-profit corporation with headquarters in Houston. In an interview with this reporter, Sonar Tarim, the superintendent of the schools and a member of the Cosmos Foundation, said: “We have no ties to Fethullah Gulen or his movement.” While Mr. Tarim admitted that the schools participate in the Turkish Olympiad, an event organized by Gulen, he expressed surprise that all of his schools were constructed by Turkish construction companies that reportedly are affiliated with Gulen and his movement.

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Osman Nori, the retired head of Turkish intelligence, recently alleged that the Gulen movement has served as a front for US intelligence by sheltering 130 CIA agents in its schools throughout Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

This claim collaborates the testimony of Sybil Edmonds, a former FBI translator and celebrated whistleblower. Ms. Edmonds says that Gulen and his movement began to receive vast sums of money from the CIA in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, when US officials realized that they could not obtain control of the massive energy resources of the newly created Russian republics because of a deep-seated suspicion of American motives.

The CIA, Ms. Edmonds maintains, came to view Turkey as a perfect “proxy” for US interests since it was a NATO ally that shared the same language, culture, and religion as the other Central Asian countries. But centralized control of these republics, she points out, could only be actualized by the creation of the Pan-Turkish nationalism and religion, envisioned by Gulen and his followers. And so, according to Ms. Edmonds, the CIA became Gulen’s partner in the creation of the New Islamic World Order. The money for the pasha’s schools and settlements, she says, came not from congressionally-approved funding but rather from covert CIA operations, including narcotics trafficking, nuclear black market, weapons smuggling, and terrorist activities.

Although Gulen and his defenders have refuted this testimony, a Department of Justice inspector general’s report called Ms. Edmond’s allegations “credible,” “serious,” and warranting a full and complete review. Ranking Senate Judiciary Committee members Pat Leahy (D-Vermont) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have offered her public backing. “60 Minutes,” the CBS news program, launched an investigation of her statements only to find them truthful and substantial. No one has ever disputed any of Ms. Edmonds’ revelations which she says can be verified by FBI investigative files.

Despite Gulen’s global ambitions, he continues to be presented as a moderate Muslim, who champions the causes of tolerance, peace, and good-will. Dalia Mogahed, the first Muslim woman to serve as a member of the White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, says that the Gulen movement “offers people a model of what is possible if a dedicated group of people work together for the good of society.”

Read more: Family Security Matters

Paul L. Williams is the author of Crescent Moon Rising: The Islamic Transformation of AmericaThe Day of Islam: The Annihilation of America and the Western World, The Al Qaeda Connection, and other best-selling books. He is a frequent guest on such national news networks as ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, MSNBC, and NPR.

Also see:

American Gets Targeted by Digital Spy Tool Sold to Foreign Governments

Turkish-web-site-660x450

Screenshot showing a web site in Turkey where malicious code was stored for a phishing attack. The right-hand window shows the page’s hidden HTML code, which reveals a malicious Flash component embedded in the page, waiting to download to computers that visited the site.

By Kim Zetter:

The email appeared to come from a trusted colleague at a renowned academic institution and referenced a subject that was a hot-button issue for the recipient, including a link to a website where she could obtain more information about it.

But when the recipient looked closely at the sender’s email address, a tell-tale misspelling gave the phishing attempt away — the email purported to come from a professor at Harvard University, but instead of harvard.edu, the email address read “hardward.edu”.

Not exactly a professional con-job from nation-state hackers, but that’s exactly who may have sent the email to an American woman, who believes she was targeted by forces in Turkey connected to or sympathetic to the powerful Gülen Movement, which has infiltrated parts of the Turkish government.

The email contained a link to a web site in Turkey, where a malicious downloader file was waiting to install on her computer — a downloader that has been connected in the past to a spy tool purportedly sold exclusively to law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous because she’s concerned about retaliation, sensed the email was a fraud and did not follow the link. Instead, the email was passed to researchers at digital forensics firm Arsenal Consulting, who set up a honeypot to visit the Turkish web site and obtained the downloader.

Though investigators didn’t obtain the file that the downloader was supposed to install, analysis of it showed that it was the same downloader that has been used in the past to install Remote Control System (RCS), a spy tool made by the Italian company Hacking Team and sold to governments. A digital certificate used to sign the downloader has also been used in the past with Hacking Team’s tool.

“It was the first hint that this was connected to Hacking Team and RCS,” Mark. G. Spencer, president of Arsenal, told Wired.

Hacking Team asserts that it sells the RCS tool only to law enforcement and government security agencies for lawful intercept purposes, but it has reportedly been used against activists and political dissidents in Morocco and the United Arab Emirates and possibly elsewhere, an issue for which Hacking Team has been severely criticized.

The company touts in marketing literature that the tool evades encryption and bypasses antivirus and other security protections to operate completely invisibly on a target’s machine.

The RCS tool, also known as DaVinci, records text and audio conversations from Skype, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk and MSN Messenger, among other communication applications. It also steals Web browsing history and can turn on a computer’s microphone and webcam to record conversations in a room and take photos. The tool relies on an extensive infrastructure to operate and therefore is not easily copied and passed to non-government actors outside that infrastructure to use for their own personal spy purposes, according to a Hacking Team spokesman.

Spencer says there’s no definitive proof pointing to who is behind the attempted hack of the American woman, but notes there is circumstantial evidence that warrants further attention.

“We have an email, a purported sender, and a target all critical of the Gülen movement. We have professional malware launched from a server in Turkey. You can take it from there,” Spencer said.

Read more at Wired

 

VICTORY: FETHULLAH GULEN CHARTER SCHOOL APPLICATION DEFEATED IN VIRGINIA

victoryBy Pamela Geller:
Necessary, freedom-loving pushback. Fethullah Gulen urges Muslims to build schools to indoctrinate an entire generation using US taxpayer dollars. More here on the “Imam’s Army.” More on Gulen here:

Gulen left Turkey in March 1998 citing health reasons (like many, many millions of people, Gulen has diabetes). At the time he was being investigated for plotting to overthrow the secular republic to replace it with an Islamic state (he had been imprisoned for six months in 1971 under a similar charge). In the spring of 1998, a video was aired on Turkish TV in which Gulen appeared to state the following:

“You must move in the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centers… You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey… Until that time, any step taken would be too early – like breaking an egg without waiting the full 40 days for it to hatch. It would be like killing the chick inside. The work to be done is [in] confronting the world. Now, I have expressed my feelings and thoughts to you all – in confidence… trusting your loyalty and sensitivity to secrecy. I know that when you leave here – [just] as you discard your empty juice boxes, you must discard the thoughts and feelings expressed here.”

The Gulen Charter School application was defeated by the school board, 8 to 1. Here’s the video from the Loudoun County Public Schools site.

4th Tuesday School Board Meeting 2013-02-27 Feb 26, 2013 04h 10m Agenda Video MP3 Audio MP4 Video

28 people signed up to speak, with the overwhelming majority against it.

Federal agencies – including the FBI and the Departments of Labor and Education – are investigating whether some Gulen charter school employees are kicking back part of their salaries to a Muslim movement founded by Gulen known as Hizmet, or Service, according to knowledgeable sources.

….. Gulen’s followers have been accused of pushing for an authoritarian Islamic state, there is no indication the American charter network has a religious agenda in the classroom.

[…] Rather, it is focused on whether hundreds of Turkish teachers, administrators, and other staffers employed under the H1B visa program are misusing taxpayer money.

Here is Gulen infiltration state-by-state. Much thanks to Atlas reader Denise Lee (see below) for her eyewitness coverage:

The Loudoun County School Board met Tuesday night to decide on whether to accept the charter school application from a group with questionable ties to Fetullah Gulen. I attended the hearing and the workingmeeting the week before on February 19th. There were over twenty speakers signed up that night, only three of which were for the charter school, also known as LMITA (Loudoun Math and IT Academy.) I was impressed by the intelligent remarks and well thought out concerns of parents and other Loudoun County residents. They  brought up the problems with the application itself that was not complete, had spelling errors and that did not address major concerns like transportation, whether a cafeteria would be provided, a budget or most importantly, what the curriculum would be. These were legitimate concerns especially since the head of the application team, Fatih Kandil, in the working meeting that followed the hearing couldn’t answer these questions and basically said that Loudoun County should give him the $8 million he was requesting and then he would show them his plan. Mr. Kandil is the former principal of the failing Chesapeake Science Point Charter School and front guy who goes around the U.S. opening these charter schools for Fetullah Gulen and his movement. You can read about what goes on in Mr. Gulen’s mind here: http://counterjihadreport.com/2012/10/08/gulens-false-choice-silence-or-violence/

The hearing went along smoothly until two men got up to speak, John Stevens and John Grigsby. Mr. Stevens accused those who opposed the school of being bigots and said that he would never want to be on their side. He also encouraged the school board to “stick it to ‘em” meaning to vote to approve the application. Mr. Grigsby spoke about how ashamed the Christians in the audience should be for opposing this school. You can see for yourselves what these two dhimmis had to say here:http://www.muslims4liberty.org/loudoun-school-board-hearings-used-by-islamophobes-to-spread-hate/ There were several really good speakers who got up and talked about why the application should be denied. Dana Weinberg is a businessman who said if this application came across his desk it wouldn’t even make it through the first round for consideration and he cautioned board members to look into their souls before making up their minds. And the last speaker, Rachel Sargent, who is a former Loudoun County school teacher and who was born in the U.S. but whose family were Christian pastors in India who were abused by Muslims, gave a brilliant rebuttal to Mr. Stevens’ and Mr. Grigsby’s obnoxious speeches and who reminded us that those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it. My favorite part of her speech, besides listing and describing all the current Gulen sponsored charter schools that are failing or have failed around the country, is when she described Mr. Kandil’s role in traveling to try to set up more charter schools by comparing it to the Beach Boy’s song, “I get around”. You can see and hear these speeches here: http://lcps.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=23

Read the rest at Atlas Shrugs