Friday, January 7, 2011

“…our schoolchildren should not be mixed up in geopolitical games.”

A memoir by a top former Turkish intelligence official claims that a worldwide moderate Islamic movement based in Pennsylvania has been providing cover for the CIA since the mid-1990s.

The memoir, roughly rendered in English as “Witness to Revolution and Near Anarchy,” by retired Turkish intelligence official Osman Nuri Gundes, says the religious-tolerance movement, led by an influential former Turkish imam by the name of Fethullah Gulen, has 600 schools and 4 million followers around the world. [This would include a network of 122 U.S. charter schools.]
In the 1990s, Gundes alleges, the movement "sheltered 130 CIA agents" at its schools in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan alone, according to a report on his memoir Wednesday by the Paris-based Intelligence Online newsletter…
Former CIA operative Robert Baer, chief of the agency’s Central Asia and Caucasus operations from 1995 through 1997, called the allegations bogus. "The CIA didn't have any ‘agents’ in Central Asia during my tenure,” he said.

It’s possible, Baer granted, that the CIA “turned around this ship after I left,” but only the spy agency could say for sure, and the CIA does not comment on operational sources and methods…

Likewise, Graham Fuller, a former CIA station chief in Kabul and author of “The Future of Political Islam,” threw cold water on Gundes’s allegations about Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan… [The Rumi Forum, a Gulenist organization, helps Fuller promote his new book.] 

“I should hasten to add that I left CIA in 1987 -- nearly 25 years ago -- and I have absolutely no concrete personal knowledge whatsoever about this…

The imam left Turkey in 1998 and settled in Saylorsburg, Pa., where the movement is headquartered. According to Intelligence Online, he obtained a residence permit only in 2008 with the help of Fuller and George Fidas, whom it described as head of the agency’s outreach to universities…

Fidas could not be reached for comment, nor would the CIA answer questions about him…
And Sibel Edmonds’ response to the WaPo article, “TURKISH INTEL CHIEF EXPOSES CIA OPERATIONS VIA ISLAMIC GROUP IN CENTRAL ASIA”; January 6, 2011; Sibel Edmonds’ Boiling Frogs blog
Yesterday Washington Post’s Jeff Stein published a very interesting but incomplete story regarding a recently published memoir by former Turkish Intelligence Chief Osman Nuri Gundes…

...The only background provided on Gulen is the following with only one link which takes you to Gulen’s marketing site…

There is no mention of Gulen’s decade-long ‘wanted’ status in Turkey (until recently), no mention of the ban on Gulen and his Madrasas in several Central Asian countries, no mention of various investigations of Gulen by other western countries, no mention of the unknown sources of his billions of dollars…As we all know except for a very few, and by that I mean a number in 100s if that, no one in this country has ever heard of this guy with his billions, with his castle in Pennsylvania, his hundreds of Madrasas, now hundreds of US charter schools, his dubious businesses….Yet, for an article as serious as this (Madrasas and mosques as CIA operation centers in Central Asia), the central figure in the story has been given one sentence; no history, no relevant facts…

…below is a list of a few Gulen related facts totally (mysteriously?) absent from Washington Post piece:
-In 1999 Gulen defected to the US shortly before his scandalous speech, where he is heard calling on his supporters to “work patiently and to creep silently into the institutions in order to seize power in the state”, became public. Turkish prosecutors demanded a ten-year sentence for Gülen for having “founded an organization that sought to destroy the secular apparatus of state and establish a theocratic state”. Mr. Gulen has not left the United States since.

-The Netherlands has taken major steps to cut funding to all Gülen associated organizations and is investigating his operations. The Turkish Fethullah Gülen movement is really an Islamic fundamentalist group, claims Rotterdam council member Anita Fähmel (Leefbaar Rotterdam) on the basis of her own study of the Turkish movement.

-The Russian government has banned all Gülen schools and the activities of the Nur sect in Russia. Over 20 Turkish followers of Gulen were deported from Russia in 2002-2004.

-In 1999 Uzbekistan closed all Gulen’s Madrasas and shortly afterward arrested eight journalists who were graduates of Gulen schools, and found them guilty of setting up an illegal religious group and of involvement in an extremist organization.

-In Turkmenistan, government authorities have placed Gulen’s schools under close scrutiny and have ordered them to scrap the history of religion from curriculums.
[Read Edmonds' entire post HERE.]

Then there was this interesting comment under the WaPo article posted by someone using the name “CASILIPS.”
Mr. Stein is to be commended for finally raising this issue in the mainstream US media. It is correct that the Turkish media portrayed Gundes' book as a shock:

However, allegations of a Gulen-CIA are hardly anything new. It is surprising that Stein makes no mention of other prominent Turks who brought up this issue years ago, for example, the late Ankara University professor Necip Hablemitoglu
and journalist/authors Hikmet Cetinkaya (of the Turkish national newspaper Cumhuriyet) and Merdan Yanardag. A translation of an excerpt from Yanardag's book can be read here

Many people in Turkey and other countries such as Russia have believed for years in a CIA-Gulen connection. The interesting question here is why the American media was never willing to investigate, especially given Gulen's already significant and rapidly growing influence on US society through his nonprofit "dialog" and political lobbying organizations, and even more importantly, through his network of over 130 charter schools in 25 US states.

We oppose the involvement of the Gulen Movement in the US charter school system. We feel that our schoolchildren should not be mixed up in geopolitical games. Our public education system should not be a forum for special interest groups such as the Gulen Movement to advance their agenda and raise funds.

The Gulen Movement has gone to great lengths to portray itself here in the US as a benign force for good. In fact, it is nothing but a machine that works relentlessly to acquire money and power. In every part of the world, it tells the people and leaders what they want to hear. This gives the movement access to markets, including the educational market. Consider prominent Gulenist Muhammed Cetin, former president of the Texas-based Institute of Interfaith Dialog, a Gulenist non-profit that supposedly works for "peace," "social justice" and "positive social change." Yet he served as advisor to the repressive dictator Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan, and translated Niyazov's book "Ruhnama." This book was the instrument for the destruction of public education in Turkmenistan. [View the film “Shadow of the Holy Book in YouTube segments HERE] The Gulen Movement was not troubled at all by this, as long as it facilitated their ability to run their own private schools in Turkmenistan. Is this a group that should be running our public schools?
Watch Kenneth Bedell, one of Duncan’s Senior Advisors, praise Fethullah Gulen (@2:00 min.) as he accepts Arne Duncan's award from the Gulenist Rumi Forum on October 26, 2010. The Rumi Forum’s “Honorary President” is Fethullah Gulen “regarded as the founder and inspirer of the global social movement known as the Hizmet (Service) Movement, more popularly known as the Gulen Movement.” When you visit the website, underneath Gulen’s photo in the right-hand bar are links to more promotional information on Fethullah Gulen, “The Gulen Movement” and “Gulen Inspired Schools.”

So a direct connection exists between the Gulen Movement and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who also happens to be a strong advocate of charter school expansion. Very strange things are going on indeed. And as the comment board entry so correctly stated, “…our schoolchildren should not be mixed up in geopolitical games.” This is all public information I've culled from easily accessible online sources. As far as I see it, my choices are to sit and say nothing, or to let you know.

ADDED on Jan. 8th: The Gulenists are also Creationists. Read "Turkey's survival of the fittest: The Islamic anti-Darwinism movement in Turkey is being helped by an unlikely source - US Christian conservatives"; March 12, 2008; ISN Security Watch
War makes strange bed fellows, especially in Turkey, where a dispute over creationism vs Darwinism has created an unusual alliance between the country's Islamists and conservative Christians in the US…

The Gulen Movement, along with other creationist advocates, has been lobbying with increasing success for school textbooks to put creationism on equal footing with Darwinism...


The Perimeter Primate said...

The “Global Imam” through
American Eyes; November 16, 2010; Milliyet (a major non-Gulenist Turkish newspaper)

The Gulen phenomenon is, little by little, starting to awaken the American media. This week, one of America’s most prestigious weekly publications, The New Republic, published a 6,000-word article about Fethullah Gulen.

It can be said that the article, which was penned by Suzy Hansen, is the most comprehensive yet about Gulen’s congregation in the American media. In her article titled “The Global Imam,” Hansen tries to give us an understanding of the congregation, which stretches all the way from Texas to Adana.

From Artvin to Izmir, there is nobody who hasn’t heard about Fethullah Gulen. Those who love him and hate him agree that the man has created a serious social phenomenon and political power, upon which he can deliver — so much so that within political circles in Ankara, Gulen’s organization is known simply as “The Congregation.” Who did it? The Congregation did. Which congregation? The Congregation.

Of course the medal has two sides. Aside from the schools, publications, social and non-governmental organizations that the Gulen community operates through their fans, the organization has a system and hierarchy about which only a few people know.

Fethullah Gulen has lived in the U.S. since 1999. He remains in touch with Turkish public opinion through journalists or supporters, who visit him from time to time.

However, aside from a handful of Turkish experts who live and operate in Washington, ordinary Americans are not aware of the man who lives in Philadelphia.

This is strange, since nowadays Americans are reading and speaking about Islam and Muslims in America to the extent that it has become a daily staple for them...

The Perimeter Primate said...

More of the usual Gulenist schmoozing and flattery in the form of "awards" lavished on influential Americans as conducted by the Rumi Forum, w/dutiful reportage and follow-up propaganda from Today's Zaman.