The Gulen Movement remains a threat to the United States and Turkey
By Abraham R. Wagner – – Thursday, January 21, 2016
No one ever wants a Cosby moment, a moment when all of one’s suspected bad deeds are exposed to the world. Fettulah Gulen, the undisputable leader of the Gulen Movement was recently provided such a Cosby Moment, compliments of the FBI.
Mr. Gulen, a Muslim cleric from Turkey, with an elementary education only, is a mysterious fellow. In cables divulged by WikiLeaks, the U.S. Department of State described Mr. Gulen as “a ‘radical Islamist’ whose moderate message cloaks a more sinister and radical agenda.” He is reputed to be worth roughly $25 billion, although no one seems to know from where he earned this tidy sum. Most notably and despite the Department of State’s perspective, he espouses principles of tolerance and multiculturalism. Yet upon deeper investigation, he is a true, dyed-in-the-wool Islamist who wishes to transform the United States and Turkey into Shariah states.
Mr. Gulen lives in the United States in self-imposed exile, a seat from which he runs a vast and questionable network of charter schools and overlapping nonprofit organizations and businesses, and, as evidence presented in U.S. and Turkish courts shows, actively agitates and plots the overthrow of the democratically-elected government in Turkey, one of the few stable allies the United States possesses in the Middle East, a NATO-member and the lynchpin to defeating ISIS and to bringing peace to Iraq and Syria.
As the proprietor of the largest network of charter schools in the United States, Mr. Gulen receives hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Active investigations into the financial malfeasance of the Gulen schools are ongoing in Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, Ohio and other states, this, in addition to an active investigation by the FBI. According to state and local law enforcement reports, the Gulen Movement, in collusion with various nonprofit organizations and companies directly linked to the Gulen Movement, are playing a sort of shell game with taxpayer funds. Gulen schools pay high rental fees on properties owned by Mr. Gulen, construction and renovations of Gulen facilities are performed by Gulen businesses and vast sums are spent on facilitating the entry of young Turkish men to the United States.
These men, disciples all, are brought to the United States to replace qualified and credentialed American teachers and, allegedly, to proselytize American children into a Turkey-centric, Islamist movement — a sort of fifth-column seeking to infiltrate American society through children in an attempt to transform America, as in the case of Turkey, into a Shariah state. These men account for over 5,000 highly questionable H-1B visas, more than Google, who are suspected of indentured servitude to the Gulen Movement and thus investigated under anti-Human Trafficking statutes.
Mr. Gulen is embroiled in a law suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania claiming that Mr. Gulen and his movement committed human rights violations against members of a rival political party in Turkey. The suit is seeking the extradition of Mr. Gulen to stand trial on these and other charges.
As in the United States, in Turkey the Gulen Movement is continually under investigation for engaging in a wide range of covert efforts to infiltrate all aspects of Turkey’s government, media and business, including law enforcement and the judiciary with the goal of thwarting constitutional order and the democratically elected government. Turkish prosecutors and police, manipulated by the Gulen Movement, have targeted senior military officers with false criminal charges, illegally tapped phones, and jailed secular journalists who have failed to follow a strict Islamic line.
Again, as in the United States, the Gulen Movement embeds itself into the educational infrastructure of Turkey, with its network of schools that radicalize children and turn them away from the ideals of modern Turkey — in much the same way that madrassas do in other nations.
Although the FBI and state and local law enforcement are ardently investigating the Gulen Movement’s vast charter school network for its fraud against the American taxpayers, the FBI, in specific, should expand and deepen its investigation to uncover the motives associated with young Turkish men teaching American children — namely the proselytization of American children to Islamist doctrine — when a glut of qualified and credentialed teachers exists.
From a geo-political standpoint, an expanded investigation will uncover what the U.S. Department of State already knows of Fettulah Gulen — that he is “a ‘radical Islamist’ whose moderate message cloaks a more sinister and radical agenda.” It will also likely go far to exposing Fettulah Gulen’s fomenting the overthrow of the Turkish government, which, if successful would move Turkey in a direction inimical to U.S. interests. Clearly, the United States doesn’t need a Gulenist regime ruling over this key NATO ally in a crucial part of the world.
• Abraham R. Wagner teaches national security law and intelligence at the Columbia Law School and Columbia Universitys School of International and Public Affairs, where he is a senior research fellow at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies.