CAIR, Awad Continue Aggressively Shilling for Turkey

cair-meets-with-turkey-parliamentariansIPT NewsSeptember 9, 2016:

A delegation from Turkey’s parliament came to Washington this week to make the case for extraditing Fethullah Gülen, an opposition figure living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

The Turkish government allegesGülen was behind July’s failed coup attempt and President Tayyip Recep Erdoğan describes his extradition as a “priority.” Gülen denies any role in the coup and U.S. officials have said the Turkish evidence presented so far is not persuasive.

According to a Turkish press account, the delegation’s second meeting was with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its executive director, Nihad Awad.

CAIR is a tax-exempt charity which presents itself as an American Civil Liberties Union devoted to protecting American Muslims from discrimination in housing, employment and other civil rights.

The visit from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) delegation, however, shows CAIR’s significant emphasis on influencing American foreign policy. CAIR is not a registered lobbying organization and isn’t registered as a foreign agent. Federal lawrequires registration by people or groups “before performing any activities for the foreign principal.”

CAIR routinely inserts itself into political debates on behalf of foreign entities, including a full campaign aimed at criticizing Israel during the 2009 and 2014 Gaza wars while staying silent about Hamas. Its Detroit director told a rally that being “defenders of the Palestinian struggle” was part of CAIR’s mission.

Awad was interviewed by Turkey’s Andolu news agency after this week’s meeting, which he called important in expressing “the support of the Muslim community for democracy and the rule of law in Turkey,” an IPT translation of his remarks shows.

“We believe in the need for more Turkish visitors and delegations to come to the United States to talk about their experiences and explain their views,” Awad said, “because there is a view against them and a pathological fear of Turkey here. The Turkish government must be aware of the need to employ more efforts to explain what is happening (in) Turkey to American public opinion.”

There’s something pathological at play here, but it isn’t some imaginary fear of Turkey. This is CAIR, an Islamist group created as part of a Muslim Brotherhood network in America, officially rushing to the aid of Turkey’s Islamist and increasingly authoritariangovernment, a government that itself has been increasingly aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

In his comments, Awad publicly acknowledges what he advised an official Turkish government delegation in private to get the desired political outcome.

We previously reported on the immediate support American-Islamists organized for Erdoğan’s AKP immediately after the failed coup. While Erdoğan’s dedicated followers inside CAIR may be comfortable with his crackdown on dissent, a recent New York Times editorial hints many U.S. policy leaders are not.

They believe “that Mr. Erdogan’s roundup of coup plotters looks like an attempt to silence any opposition, that Turkey has behaved outrageously in failing to stop conspiracy theories depicting the United States as a co-conspirator in the coup attempt, that Turkey has produced little evidence to warrant Mr. Gulen’s extradition and that Mr. Erdogan’s autocratic behavior is making him an unreliable ally.”

He has proven unreliable in the fight against ISIS, too. He failed to stop the flow of foreign fighters using Turkey as a way-station to join ISIS and places his fight against pro-Western Kurds above the global threat posed by ISIS.

Erdoğan’s post-coup attempt arrest record, along with a media crackdown and allegations of torture, speak for themselves, if that’s what Awad thinks is part of the “pathological fear of Turkey.”

What it has to do with CAIR’s charitable mission is much murkier.

Erdogan-Gulen Power Struggle Divides European Turks

erdoganIPT News
August 8, 2016

On the night of July 15, members of the Turkish military stormed the state-run TRT news agency in Ankara and forced an anchorwoman to read a statement calling President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a “traitor.” Within moments, tanks began to drive menacingly through the streets of Ankara and Istanbul as military planes roared over Turkish skies. The Parliament was bombed. The fifth military coup in the history of modern Turkey had begun, taking even the most anti-government Turks by surprise.

But Erdogan regained complete control within hours, thanks to his fervent supporters who took to the streets in his defense. Throughout the night, pro- and anti-Erdogan military and civilians clashed across the country, leaving nearly 300 dead and 2,100 injured by morning.

The attempted coup and its aftermath, however, soon exploded into more than just a national crisis; it has had incendiary repercussions globally, particularly in the Turkish communities of Europe.

Erdogan declared a state of emergency July 16, and began cracking down on suspected members of the coup plot and their allies. By July 20, more than 45,000 people had been arrested, including 2,700 judges and 15,000 teachers. As Erdogan called for reinstating the death penalty, credible reports emerged of prisoners being tortured and raped.

In the meantime, tens of thousands of others have been fired from their jobs as the state takes over or shuts down nearly all the country’s media outlets – including three news agencies, 16 television channels, 45 newspapers and 15 magazines, Reuters reports. And on Monday, more than three weeks after the failed coup, Turkey recalled five senior diplomats from its embassy in The Hague.

All who have been sacked are accused of complicity in the coup, based on their (ostensible) ties to Fethullah Gulen, a powerful cleric now living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Once one of Erdogan’s closest allies, Gulen has become his most despised enemy in recent years, thanks in large part to Gulen’s criticism of Erdogan during the 2013 Gezi Park demonstrations. Now Turkey’s president accuses Gulen of being behind the coup attempt, demands his extradition from the United States. Meantime, he continues his crackdown on the cleric’s followers.

But those followers are not just in Turkey, and neither are Tayyip Erdogan’s. Millions of European Turks – both immigrants and subsequent generations – ally themselves with the Gulenist movement, or Hizmet. While some call it a cult and claim it represents a zealous Islamic religious movement, others view it as a more moderate strain of Islam and praise Gulen for his interfaith initiatives, and for the hospitals, schools and universities he has founded internationally, including over 100 charter schools in the United States. But since the split between the two men, tensions have also emerged between pro-Gulen and pro-Erdogan groups that are far more virulent than the disputes between those who favor Hizmet and those who condemn it.

As a result, the clashes between the conflicting sides have spilled beyond the Turkish borders into Europe, and have now exploded since the coup. Often, they have been violent, with pro-Erdogan protesters hurling stones into the windows of Gulen organizations in Gelsenkirchen, Germany and Rotterdam, Holland, or calling to set fire to a building housing a Gulenist organization in Beringen, Belgium (“Burn them alive!” the protesters shouted.). Arsonists also attacked several Gulen buildings in the Netherlands.

In other instances, the attacks are quieter but more sinister: members of 70 different Gulen-affiliated groups in the Netherlands report receiving hate messages and death threats. People believed to support the movement – or who fail to support Erdogan – report being banned from mosques and refused entry to restaurants. Dutch children have told each other “I can’t talk to you anymore.” A number of Gulen followers have gone into hiding, fearing for their safety.

And in Germany, home to Europe’s largest Turkish community, estimated at nearly 3 million, some 30-40,000 Erdogan supporters marched through Cologne on July 31. And while the demonstrations went off without incident, they represent a chasm within the country – not just between Germans and Turks, but – as in the Netherlands – among the Turks themselves. Noted Deutsch-Welle‘s Gero Schliess in an editorial, “After the coup attempt in Turkey, divisions have emerged in this country that no one had seen for a long time – or hadn’t wanted to see. The failed coup and President Erdogan’s massive onslaught against civil rights have deeply divided the Turkish community in Germany. The split runs right through families and neighborhoods, regardless of social strata or profession.”

But at least as disturbing is the idea of 30-40,000 people marching in support of the man who has led the profoundly anti-democratic crackdown in Turkey. While it may be understandable to oppose a military coup, it is something else entirely to continue marching in support in light of the abuses that have followed. Moreover, according to Politico, the situation has also “reignited a decade-long debate in Germany about the Turkish state steering public opinion within the German-Turkish community through a web of lobbying groups, religious institutions, media outlets and public figures.”

Religious groups seem to be chief among those, such as the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs, sponsored by the Turkish state. That Turkey is therefore subsidizing mosques in Germany demonstrates the strength not only of the country’s influence on the political visions of German Turks, but on their religious ideas as well. And in an increasingly Islamist Turkey, those ideas no longer reflect the secular, humanist values of Ataturk; rather, they are based on an increasingly strict vision of Sunni Islam in which the state and the mosque are one.

Other Turkish religious groups, including Milli Gorüs, an Islamist group headquartered in Cologne, are also believed to hold sway over European Turks, particularly in the Netherlands.

Behind them all, particularly in Belgium, is the Diyanet, the official Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs .

Ataturk created the Diyanet soon after the founding of the Turkish republic, to help ensure that imams preached moderate interpretations of Islam. They were critical to maintaining the separation between mosque and state. With the rise of Erdogan and his AK Party, however, it has served to do just the opposite: it now promotes Islamist views in Turkey and among the Turkish community abroad. As Istanbul-based journalist David Lepeska noted last year, the Diyanet‘s budget has quadrupled since 2006 to over $2 billion, with a 2015 budget allocation that was “40 percent more than the Ministry of the Interior’s and equal to those of the Foreign, Energy, and Culture and Tourism ministries combined.” In addition to presiding over Turkey’s own mosques, the directorate governs hundreds of mosques across Europe, has increased the number of religious classes in public schools, and, reports Lepeska, “runs a 24-hour television station, Diyanet television, available via satellite, cable, and YouTube, and manages a Facebook page (with nearly 230,000 fans), two Twitter accounts (more than 50,000 followers), and an Islamic lifestyle hotline.”

The result is a toxic mixture of religion and politics that could not be further from the secular ideals of the founder of modern Turkey. Add Erdogan’s and the AKP’s human rights abuses and dictatorial leanings to this and the cauldron boils hotter and more dangerous than ever. Whatever problems existed previously, the post-coup situation bears far too many parallels to the impulses and ideologies of radical Islamism: whoever does not support Erdogan becomes the enemy. And Erdogan, as the leader of Turkey, is the leader of the Diyanet.

The outcome is a kind of tribalism that already infects the rest of the Middle East: to be outside the Erdogan support core is to be outside the realm of the Diyanet – an apostate of sorts, threatened with death.

That this could become the future of Ataturk’s secular democratic republic is tragic. But there is also a very real possibility of the impulse spreading into Europe. Other events this year, such as the attacks on Dutch journalist Ebru Umar and German comedian Jan Bohmermann, both of whom criticized the Turkish president, demonstrate that many European Turks lean towards such a radicalized and tribalist vision. It is a vision Europe’s leaders would do well to extinguish while they still can.

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Does Erdogan Want To Be Sultan?

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Democracy is like a train — when you reach your stop, you get off.

CounterJihad, by Bruce Cornibe, July 20, 2016:

Last Friday’s failed coup attempt in Turkey, which claimed the lives of over 200 individuals, has left a lot of speculation about the causes of the incident and Turkish President Erdogan’s level of collusion. Erdogan has already stated that the coup attempt “is a blessing from Allah, because it will allow us to purge the military[.]” Reuters reports on the current number of detainees or those suspended by Turkish authorities at around 50,000 people – including military personnel, members of law enforcement, court officials, teachers and civil servants. Erdogan is clearly using this division to further Turkey into a more autocratic system of governance with him at the helm. For example, in a 2015 speech Erdogan addressed the issue of altering Turkey’s Constitution to match his expanded presidential role stating:

“There is a president with de facto power in the country, not a symbolic one. The president should conduct his duties for the nation directly, but within his authority. Whether one accepts it or not, Turkey’s administrative system has changed. Now, what should be done is to update this de facto situation in the legal framework of the constitution[.]”

Erdogan paints himself as an ally to the West, but he’s unquestionably an Islamist using the democratic process to transform a once secular-democratic country of the Ataturk tradition to an authoritarian Islamic state that punishes dissenting opinions.  Journalists, politicians, academics, military figures, and religious leaders alike have suffered under his rule.

Freedom House, an independent organization that monitors freedom and democracy, labeled Turkey as “Not Free” in 2016 – receiving poor rankings in different categories such as legal environment (26/30 with 30 being worst), political environment (30/40 with 40 being worst), economic environment (15/30 with 30 being worst), and press freedom score (71/100 with 100 being worst). Freedom House explains that constitutional protections such as freedom of press and expression are subverted by “the penal code, the criminal procedure code, and the harsh, broadly worded antiterrorism law that essentially leave punishment of normal journalistic activity to the discretion of prosecutors and judges.” For example, in 2015, Turkish authorities charged three Vice News journalists on terrorism related charges.  They have since been released with the help of freedom and human rights organizations.

Erdogan has made it clear that one of his chief rivals in his quest for power is an Islamic cleric named Fethullah Gülen, whom he accused of staging the recent coup attempt. Gülen is often regarded as a ‘moderate’ in the West but shares a similar Islamist ideology to that of Erdogan. Gülen, like the Muslim Brotherhood, goes by the strategy of gradualism or incrementalism to slowly bring about an Islamic state with the implementation of sharia. Gülen has built a vast network of schools and cultural centers around the world to gradually expand Islam’s role within society. This deceptive strategy is revealed in a former Gülen sermon, of which this is an excerpt:

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, like in the tragedies in Algeria, like in 1982 [in] Syria … like in the yearly disasters and tragedies in Egypt. The time is not yet right. You must wait for the time when you are complete and conditions are ripe, until we can shoulder the entire world and carry it … 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 forty 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 secrecy. I know that when you leave here—[just] as you discard your empty juice boxes, you must discard the thoughts and the feelings that I expressed here.

Because of Gülen’s influence and following within Turkey he is seen as a major threat by Erdogan. Erdogan officially designated Gülen’s movement a terrorist group and vowed to come after its members. Erdogan is now using the failed coup to try once more to extradite Gülen and clampdown on his followers.

Turkey is not only a strategic NATO ally but also holds considerable political clout with the EU in regards to Europe’s Muslim immigration crisis.  For that reason, he is likely to enjoy considerable support from the United States and the EU in spite of his autocratic tendencies.  As Erdogan continues to gain power and advances toward his aspirations of another Ottoman empire ruled by Sharia, the EU can either placate Turkish demands or stand up for their European values. Let’s hope they choose the latter.

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New Ties Emerge Between Clinton And Mysterious Islamic Cleric

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton speaks at the Turkish Cultural Center, Sept. 2007. (Youtube screengrab)

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton speaks at the Turkish Cultural Center, Sept. 2007. (Youtube screengrab)

Daily Caller, by Chuck Ross, July 13, 2016:

A newly-released email and lobbying documents filed with Congress reveals new ties between Clintonworld and members of a network operated by a mysterious Islamic cleric from Turkey.

Connections between Clinton and acolytes of the imam, Fethullah Gulen, could muddle the complex relationship between the U.S. and Turkey, a key NATO ally, if the former secretary of state wins the White House.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has mounted an aggressive crackdown against Gulen and his followers, known as Gulenists. Erdoğan, who was once allied with Gulen, has even personally asked President Obama to extradite the 74-year-old guru, who has lived in self-exile in Pennsylvania’s Pocono mountains since 1999.

(RELATED: Followers Of A Mysterious Islamic Cleric Have Donated Heavily To Hillary’s Campaign And Charity)

Erdoğan has accused Gulen of attempting to undermine the Turkish government. Gulen’s followers control many Turkish institutions, including the media, courts, and police force.

In addition to muddying that complex geopolitical dynamic, a 2009 email recently released by Judicial Watch provides yet another example of access being provided to a Clinton campaign and Clinton Foundation donor.

In the April 1, 2009 message, a Gulen follower named Gokhan Ozkok asked Clinton deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin for help in connecting one of his allies to President Obama.

Ozkok is founding board member of the Turkish Cultural Center and part of a network of businesses and non-profits affiliated with the Gulen movement, also known as Hizmet.

Ozkok served as national finance co-chair of the pro-Clinton Ready PAC. He gave $10,000 to the committee in 2014 and $2,700 to Clinton’s campaign last year. He is also listed on the Turkish Cultural Center’s website as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, one of the non-profit arms of the Clinton Foundation. He’s given between $25,000 and $50,000 to the Clinton charity.

Another link between Gulenists and the Clinton orbit was revealed in a lobbying registration disclosure filed last month with the Senate. It shows that a Gulen-aligned group called the Alliance for Shared Values hired the Clinton-connected Podesta Group to lobby Congress on its behalf. The group seeks to lobby for the “promotion of peace, tolerance and interfaith dialogue.”

The group’s executive director is Alp Aslandogan, a former professor at universities in Texas. He has also donated to Clinton’s political endeavors, campaign finance records show.

The Podesta Group is a natural choice for those seeking influence with Clinton. The firm was co-founded by John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, and his brother Tony, a major Clinton campaign bundler.

Through various non-profit groups, both Gulenists promote the cleric’s teachings, which are relatively moderate and pro-Western. They are also involved in the Gulen movement’s money-making endeavor: a vast network of taxpayer-funded charter schools.

Those schools, which number more than 150, have been a source of controversy for the Gulen movement.

Federal investigators have reportedly investigated some of the schools for using work visas to bring Turkish citizens to the U.S. to teach. In some cases, taxpayer funds were used to pay immigration and legal fees for family members of teachers who worked at the facilities. Funds allocated to the schools have also been funneled to contractors controlled by Turkish nationals with connections to the Gulen movement.

A 2011 New York Times article focused on suspicious ties between Gulenist schools operating in Texas under the name Harmony Public Schools. Harmony contracted with a company controlled by a pro-Gulen non-profit called the Cosmos Foundation. In 2002, Aslandogan purchased property that was later sold to Harmony. He also founded the Texas Gulf Foundation, which has also been awarded taxpayer-funded contracts to provide services to Gulen schools.

Aslandogan did not return a request for comment. Nor did Ozkok, who has affiliations with Gulen-connected education firms Sema Education and Apple Education Services.

The partnerships between the schools and contractors allow taxpayer funds to remain within the Gulen network. Teachers at the schools, many of whom are not fluent in English, are also used to help finance Hizmet, according to one former teacher at a Gulen institute.

The teacher, who is now a government whistleblower, told “60 Minutes” in 2012 that Turkish teachers are required to return a large portion of their salary to the Gulen network. She said that her Turkish husband, who taught at one of the schools, was required to return 40 percent of his salary.

Accusations of visa fraud and other impropriety, which Gulenists largely deny, have contributed to an increased profile for Gulen, who ended up staying in the U.S. permanently after coming here for medical treatment.

Erdoğan’s campaign to rid Turkey of Gulen’s influence has also thrust the recluse onto the public spotlight.

On top of his efforts to crackdown on Gulenists within the Turkish media, judiciary and police, Erdoğan has sought to exert influence over Gulen in the U.S.

During a 2014 visit with President Obama, Erdoğan, who served as prime minister prior to his presidential term, reportedly asked Obama for Gulen’s extradition. The Turkish government has also retained the law firm Amsterdam & Partners in an effort to undermine Gulen and Gulenists in the courts as well as the media.

The connections between the Gulen movement and Clinton are not the first to be revealed. They also add to questions about what it is the Gulenists want from Clinton and whether the Democrat has rewarded their financial support with favors.

Last year The Daily Caller reported that numerous Gulen followers have donated to Clinton’s various political campaigns and to her family charity. One Gulen movement leader, Recep Ozkan, donated between $500,000 and $1 million to the Clinton Foundation.

As senator from New York, Clinton gave a keynote address at the Turkish Cultural Center’s annual banquet.

The email to Abedin, which is the first piece of communication showing that a Gulen follower had direct access to Clinton’s staff, sought a favor.

“Please tell Madam Secretary that it would be great if President Obama can include a 15 minutes [sic] meeting with Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the Organization of of [sic] the Islamic Conference (OIC), in his trip to Turkey,” wrote Ozkok.

April 1, 2009 email from Gokhan Ozkok to Huma Abedin. Obtained by Judicial Watch

April 1, 2009 email from Gokhan Ozkok to Huma Abedin. Obtained by Judicial Watch

It is unclear if Abedin forwarded Ozkok’s request to Clinton or anyone else in the Obama administration. But Ihsanoglu, who is an ally of Gulen’s and lost to Erdogan in the 2014 presidential election, did meet with Obama in Istanbul several days after the email. There, Obama reportedly extended an invitation to Ihsanoglu to visit the White House. The academic visited in June 2009 and reportedly asked Obama to create a U.S. ambassador to the Muslim world.

Huma Abedin (R) and Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill (L). (REUTERS)

Huma Abedin (R) and Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill (L). (REUTERS)

Some terror watchdog groups flagged the meetings, pointing to Ihsanoglu’s past praise of the terrorist group Hamas and for Sudanese president and U.S. foe Omar al-Bashir. But Ihsanoglu does not appear to be a radical firebrand like so many Islamists in the Middle East.

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Clare Lopez: Gulen and the Gulenist Movement

Center for Security Policy, May 10, 2016

Clare M. Lopez, Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy, is the co-author of the recently published book “Gülen and the Gülenist Movement: Turkey’s Islamic Supremacist Cult and its Contributions to the Civilization Jihad.” Fethullah Gülen is the head of a vast political network in Turkey that promotes theocracy and has infiltrated the Turkish state. Gülen lives in the U.S. where he has established a significant number of charter schools. Her remarks included commentary on Gülen’s erstwhile ally, now opponent, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

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Why should Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen operate charter schools on U.S. Military bases?

GULEN-630x357The Hill, by Robert R. Amsterdam, March 31, 2016:

A secretive Islamic movement is trying to infiltrate the U.S. military by establishing and operating publicly-funded charter schools targeted toward children of American service personnel.

That charge may sound like a conspiracy theory from the lunatic fringe, but it is real and it is happening right now.  The most immediate threat is in Nevada, where Coral Academy of Science Las Vegas (CASLV) is currently negotiating with the United States Air Force to locate a charter school at Nellis Air Force Base, with classes starting this fall.  What is not widely known is that CASLV is part of a nationwide organization of charter schools and other businesses headed by Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, a reclusive but influential Imam living under self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania to avoid criminal prosecution in his native Turkey.

Our law 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.  Our investigation, still in its early stages, reveals 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.

Aside from defrauding American taxpayers, the Gülen organization has an even more ominous objective in the United States.  The organization is one of the country’s largest recipients of H1-B “specialty occupation” visas, which it uses to import Turkish teachers into its charter schools, supposedly because local U.S. talent is not available to fill math and science teaching positions in its charter schools.  The Gülen organization illegally threatens to revoke these visas unless the Turkish teachers agree to kick back part of their salary to the organization.

More importantly, the Turkish teachers in Gülen organization charter schools are evaluated not on the basis of their teaching skills, but rather on whether they achieve monthly goals in a secret point system designed to instil Turkish culture and Gülenist ideology in our American students. The goal, we are told, is to develop a Gülenist following of high achievers, incubated in our local community schools across the country.

The Gülen organization has been able to grow in the U.S. largely because it conceals both its identity and its motives.  The first line of defense for Gülenist charter schools and companies has been to deny any affiliation with Fethullah Gülen (their officers and directors claim that they are merely “inspired by” Gülen’s religious teachings), as if the simple creation of business entities in which Fethullah Gülen himself holds no ownership interest could alter his ultimate control over the organization.  In reality, the governing boards of the Gülen charter schools are populated disproportionately by loyal Turkish men answering to a handful of Imams who rule over defined regions across the U.S., reporting ultimately to Gülen in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.

In Nevada, CASLV is a three-campus school operating under a charter held by tax-exempt Coral Education Corp., headquartered in Reno.  Three of Coral’s board members are Turkish, one of whom was formerly the Principal at two other Gülen organization charter schools, the Sonoran Science Academy at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona and the Bay Area Technology School in California.

Unfortunately, Nellis Air Force Base is not the Gülen organization’s first stab at a U.S. military base.  The organization successfully opened a school on Davis-Monthan AFB in 2009, and it tried but failed to gain access to Marine Corps Base Hawaii and Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois.  In California, Magnolia Public Schools applied for a charter in Oceanside, where Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is located, although it temporarily withdrew its application after our law firm pointed out Magnolia’s connection to the Gülen organization earlier this year.

Lest there be any doubt about the objectives in the United States, the strategy of subtly indoctrinating school children into the Gülen movement is a familiar one overseas, and there is great peril in allowing it to flourish in this country.  In his native Turkey, Gülen created a network of hundreds of schools that have produced – over the past three decades – a vast cadre of followers now prepared to perform his bidding from official positions in government, law enforcement, the judiciary and the media.  Although precise numbers are impossible to verify, some have estimated that he currently controls more than half of the entire Turkish police force. The Economist newspaper compared Gülen’s influence in Turkey to the Freemason infiltration of law enforcement and judicial elites in Europe during the last century. Numerous documented cases in Turkey involving planted evidence, tainted prosecutions and illegal incarceration of Gülen critics underscore that he is quite willing to abuse his power and influence.

The same game plan is playing out, at last count, in 101 countries on every habitable continent.  With an estimated six million followers globally and assets in the range of $20-$50 billion, the Gülen organization has managed to conceal a great deal about its doctrine, mission or objectives.  Whether Gülen’s followers are classified as a religious sect, a commercial enterprise, a political movement or – as Dutch legislators concluded – a cult, it should be a matter of significant concern for our security and regulatory authorities.

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.

Robert R. Amsterdam is founder of Amsterdam and Partners LLP, an international law firm based in Washington, DC and London.

Turkish Police Takeover Largest Opposition Newspaper

Turkish police break down the entrance to the largest Turkish opposition newspaper Zaman. Inset: A photographer inside is ousted by special forces. (Photos: Video screenshots)

Turkish police break down the entrance to the largest Turkish opposition newspaper Zaman. Inset: A photographer inside is ousted by special forces. (Photos: Video screenshots)

Clarion Project,  March 6, 2016

Turkish special forces stormed the largest opposition newspaper in Turkey Friday night, forcibly taking over the paper. Outside, riot police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons into the crowds of thousands protesting the takeover (see video below).

The front page of the Zaman’s last edition, printed entirely in black and published before the takeover, read “Shameful day for free press in Turkey.”

Abdulhamit Bilici, the paper’s editor-in-chief, who was fired and dragged out of the building, said, “It is a dark day for Turkish democracy and a flagrant violation of the constitution.”

Earlier, commenting on the fact that under President (and former prime minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has been labeled the biggest jail for journalists in Europe, Bilici said, “It has been a habit for the last three, four years, that anyone who is speaking against government policies is facing either court cases or prison, or such control by the government.”

Bilici said the Turkish media, for the most part, had avoided covering the details of the takeover out of fear that they might be targeted next.

According to Erkan Ipekci, award-winning Turkish journalist and president of the Turkish Journalists Union, 183 journalists have been imprisoned since 2009 with 63 still remaining in jail. Journalists who have been critical of Erdogan and his Islamist government have had their phones tapped and been arrested on charges of “terrorism.”

Erdogan has linked the paper, as well as its English-language edition Today’s Zaman and its news agency Cihan, to his nemesis Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Turkish preacher with enormous wealth and support. Erdogan accuses Gulen, who fled to the U.S. in 1999, of conspiring to overthrow the government by building a network of supporters in the judiciary, police and media.

In a statement, Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said the operation was “ideological and unlawful.”

“Erdoğan is now moving from authoritarianism to all-out despotism,” Deloire said. “Not content with throwing journalists in prison for ‘supporting terrorism’ or having them sentenced to pay heavy fines for ‘insulting the ‘head of state,’ he is now going further by taking control ofTurkey’s biggest opposition newspaper.”

Three trustees supportive of Erdogan were appointed to manage the paper. When reporters returned to work the next day, they found that their Internet connection had been cut, they were not able to access their email accounts and that attempts were being made to wipe out the paper’s entire online achive.

In the last number of years and particularly since the popular uprising at Gezi Park, Erdogan has been cracking down on press freedom and directed his majority parliament to pass laws limiting that freedom.

At the beginning of 2014, a new bill was approved to allow any Internet site to be blocked by the telecommunications authority without approval by a court. In addition, the law mandated that Internet providers must keep records of each subscriber’s online activity which must be made  available to authorities upon request.

In December of 2014, Today’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı was arrested on charges of forming and leading a terrorist organization. He was subsequently released.

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