Turkey’s Hunt for Alleged Coup Participants Extends Overseas

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing a rally of supporters in Ankara on Wednesday. PHOTO: KAYHAN OZER/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing a rally of supporters in Ankara on Wednesday. PHOTO: KAYHAN OZER/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

WSJ, by DION NISSENBAUM andEMRE PEKER Aug. 11, 2016:

ISTANBUL—Turkey’s government is seeking several overseas military officers and diplomatic staff who fled their posts in the wake of the failed coup and could be seeking asylum, potentially raising new political headaches for Turkey and its Western allies.

Two Turkish military attachés posted in Greece and their families boarded a ferry bound for Italy last week, but their current whereabouts aren’t known, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

They disappeared just before a request from Turkey on Sunday to have Athens revoke their diplomatic passports, according to a person familiar with the matter.

In addition, a Turkish military officer stationed at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s allied command in Norfolk, Va., Rear Adm. Mustafa Zeki Ugurlu, has rebuffed a request to return home and requested asylum in the U.S., according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter and Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.

The U.S. official declined to comment further. NATO officials referred a request for comment to Turkey.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cavusoglu said that two Turkish civil servants in Bangladesh fled to New York, and another in Kazan, Russia, went to Japan after the coup attempt. Turkish authorities are in contact with their foreign counterparts to secure their return, he said.

“We will return these traitors to Turkey,” he said.

The State Department referred questions about the reported asylum requests to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration agency, which refused to comment, citing privacy rules.

Japanese officials in Washington referred questions to Tokyo.

Greek officials declined to comment on the two military attachés who had been posted in Greece. A spokeswoman for Italy’s Interior Ministry said Turkey has informed it of their possible presence in Italy and that the ministry was checking.

How Turkey’s allies deal with the missing diplomats could have significant impact on already tense relations with Ankara. Washington and European Union capitals are trying to balance support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of the July 15 coup attempt, in which 271 people were killed, and concern about the crackdown that followed against perceived enemies of the state.

The Turkish government imposed a state of emergency last month and launched a sweeping campaign against those it accuses of links to Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based Turkish imam who Turkey says directed the coup.

More than 18,000 people, including top military officers, have been arrested and thousands of others detained. Thousands of teachers have been suspended, university deans have been forced to resign, dozens of journalists have been arrested, and businesses with alleged links to Mr. Gulen have been shut down.

Mr. Gulen, whose organization is designated a terror group in Turkey and who is on Turkey’s most-wanted list, has repeatedly denied playing any role in the failed military takeover.

Western officials have urged the government to be judicious in its response, expressing concern about respect for the rule of law. That has inflamed tensions with Mr. Erdogan, who has accused some allies of aligning themselves with the coup-plotters.

He is demanding that the U.S. extradite Mr. Gulen, but U.S. officials have told The Wall Street Journal that they haven’t seen sufficient evidence for that judicial process to succeed.

As part of its hunt for alleged Gulen supporters, the Turkish government has ordered the return of some officials serving abroad. Mr. Cavusoglu said that on the night of the coup attempt, some Turkish military attachés abroad had notified ambassadors that the armed forces had taken over.

Turkey has received some help from other countries. Saudi Arabia detained the Turkish attaché from Kuwait as he was trying to leave, and the United Arab Emirates sent back from Dubai two brigadier generals who had been based in Afghanistan, the foreign minister said.

As for the two military attachés in Greece, Mr. Cavusoglu said that Greek officials spotted the men and their families boarding an Italy-bound ferry after reviewing CCTV footage at Turkey’s request.

One of the Turkish attachés has family in the Netherlands and might be heading there, he said.

Turkey also has asked Greece to return eight Turkish military personnel who flew a Turkish helicopter to Greece as the coup crumbled.

The eight are awaiting Greek court decisions on their asylum requests.

Also see:

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.

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.

*****

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.

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