Is Fethullah Gulen Working for the CIA?
Kurdishaspect.com - By Dr. Aland Mizell
Is Fethullah Gulen really a CIA agent? Or does Fethullah Gulen know how to use the CIA for his interest? Why is the Gulen movement more successful than any other Muslim movement in Turkey or even outside of Turkey? Is the Gulen movement really chosen by God and making his followers “the chosen ones”? Who introduced Gulen to the Washington Circle? What was the role of the Jewish community, such as the Anti-Defamation League, in promoting him in the USA? Gulen and his followers are opportunistic. They know how to use people and systems for their purpose; for example, in the eighties he positioned himself against Communism to get the support of the USA. Gulen never takes risks but rather finds the direction of the wind, and then his followers will do anything to succeed. I would not be surprised if Gulenists have already infiltrated the CIA. In the past Dr. Necip Hablemitoglu, professor of history at Ankara University studied the relation of Fethullah Gulen’s community with the CIA. In his study he claimed that the CIA used Fethullah Gulen or that Gulen worked for the CIA. Dr. Hablemitoglu was assassinated in 2002, and his case has still not been solved. Regarding Gulen’s connection to the CIA, former Turkish Intelligence Chief, Osman Nuri Gundes, in his memoir claimed that Gulen’s movement has been providing cover for the CIA since the mid-1990s, and that in the 90s, the movement sheltered 130 CIA agents at its schools in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan alone. The memoir revealed that the CIA operates in Central Asia by using the Gulenists’ movement. Furthermore, the Washington Post, hastening its news sells, printed the partial and prejudiced coverage of this recently published memoir by Chief Gundes. I think that the publication was an important piece although not a fair, objective news analysis, but rather a marketing tool and a kind of propagandistic journalism for the Gulenists. I think that the author failed to demonstrate the intense secrecy of the organization and neglected to conduct further investigation to see if the Gulenists do have a connection with the CIA.
In addition, the author of the Washington Post article could have interviewed more people not Just Graham Fuller, author of The Future of Political Islam, an ex-CIA agent and former CIA station chief in Afghanistan, and a favorable voice for the movement to see if Fuller’s assertions are relevant or not. It seems Mr. Fuller explicitly denies CIA connections with Gulenists’ missionaries. Further, Fuller claims that he has no knowledge about the Gulenist movement, but then later he adds that he did write a letter to the FBI in 2006 saying that Mr. Gulen is not a danger to US security and urging the government not to deport him to his native country of Turkey. If Graham Fuller does not know much about Gulen, then why would he write a letter to the FBI to say that he is not a danger to American security or to argue against his extradition? Why would he give a free ride to Gulenists and to Gulen? How long did Fuller study the Gulen movement before he made such statements about Gulen’s role in Central Asia or about his not being a danger? How did Fuller and former USA Ambassador Morton Abramowitz and businessman Ishak Alaton know each other? What was the role of the Anti-Defamation League’s president, Abraham Foxman, and the League’s Deputy National Director, Kenneth Jacobson? The Post piece was far from investigative reporting.What other liaisons call into question Gulen’s relation to the CIA? To what extent did the CIA and Gulenists collaborate with General Rashid Dostum, the leader of Afghanistan’s minority Uzbek community? In 1998, the Taliban forced Dostum to flee to Turkey; he returned from exile in Turkey to Afghanistan in April 2001. Seeing his potential, President Hamid Karzai appointed Dostum as Chief of Staff to the Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces in 2005. What reshaping or alliances occurred during those three years in Turkey?
Besides the CIA, another group Gulen used and became significantly connected with was the US Jewish community and with the worldwide one, chiefly through Ishak Alaton, co- founder and chairman of the executive board of Alarko Holding Company. Alaton is one of the wealthiest business tycoons in the world, owning Alarko with its interests primarily in energy, land development, housing, investment, tourism, and other enterprises. He is a Jew raised in Turkey. Having been a courageous public voice for Gulen and Gulenists in Turkey and abroad, he is very close to Gulen and regularly keeps in touch thanks to his worldwide contacts. In any difficulties Gulen and Gulenists ask for help from Alaton. For example, the Alaton’s had close business alliances in Turkmenistan, so that when Gulen’s schools ran into political trouble, Gulen asked for his help to keep his schools open there. Also, when the Russian authorities closed down his operations and did not let Gulenists open schools in Russia, Gulen sent Ishak Alaton to tell the Russian authority that Gulen’s followers were not fundamentalists and to lend Alaton’s credibility in testifying that they were safe. In 2006, when Gulen had problems with his immigration in the US, one of Gulen’s closest friends, Ahmet Kara, and the editor of the Zaman newspaper, Ekrem Dumanli, again asked help from Alaton because the Gulenist leaders were nervous about how to prevent his deportation from America. Alaton asked help from the former USA Ambassador to Turkey, Morton Abramowitz. In part through Abramowitz’s intervention and other CIA letters of recommendation besides Fuller’s, the US Office for Immigration did not deport Gulen to his native country of Turkey.
Like the CIA, Gulenists thrive on secrecy. For Gulenists a strategy without
tactics is the slowest route to accomplish their goals. The core of the
organization is secrecy (Sir Tutmak) and caution (Tedbirli olmak) because
tactics without an overarching strategy for them is the noise before the defeat. Secrecy becomes an addiction for Gulenists. They are trained not to give information away, and, according to Gulen. Keeping a secret is equivalent to guarding one’s chastity. Keeping secrets whether personal, collegial, or national is like keeping themselves chaste, so they must be meticulous about keeping the secret as they would be about their honor. Conversely those who spread secrets damage their honor and reputation by leaving them unguarded. Before a candidate joins the organization the Gulenists will indoctrinate the student about how to keep secrets. If followers want to tell someone a secret, they must be sure that they can trust him or her with their honor. An unreliable person, one who is ignorant of the value of chastity, should not be entrusted with keeping a secret. Gulen explains this doctrine in his Pearls of Wisdom. He teaches that hearts are created as safes for keeping secrets. Intelligence is their lock; will power is their key. No one can break into the safe and steal its valuables if the lock or keys are not faulty. He urges his followers to bear in mind that those who carry others' secrets to you might bear yours to others. Further, he cautions them not to give such tactless people any chance to learn even the smallest details of your private concerns. A secret is a power only as long as it stays with its owner but is a weapon that may be used against its owner if it passes into the hands of others. Developing his point, Gulen explains, “This is the meaning of one of our traditional sayings: ‘The secret is your slave but you become its slave if you disclose it.’” The details of many important affairs can be protected only if they are kept secret. Often enough when the involved parties do not keep certain matters secret no progress is achieved. In addition, serious risks might confront those who are involved particularly if the matter concerns delicate issues of national life and its continuation. This doctrine admonishes them, “Explain what you must but never give away all of your secrets. Those who freely publicize the secrets of their hearts drag themselves and their nation toward an inevitable downfall .If a state cannot protect its secrets from its enemies it cannot develop. If an army reveals its strategy to its antagonists it cannot attain victory. If key workers are won over by the competitors their employers cannot succeed.” Secrecy undergirds Gulen’s life and movement.
If Gulen does not have a secret agenda, then why would his followers be so
secretive? The truth never envelops itself in mystery, yet we see that
Gulenists’ claims about tolerance, interfaith dialogue, justice, peace and
equality slowly reveal the reality behind the movement as it developed in
Turkey. What Gulenists want is total power and one-man rule; they want a status so that none could dare to object to them or to their leader, because they sincerely believe that Allah has chosen them to disseminate their brand of Turkish Islam to the world, and therefore that everything they do is right and without mistakes. That is why the best weapon for a dictator’s regime is secrecy, but the best weapon for a real democracy is openness and transparency, is it not? How democratic, open, and transparent are the Gulenists?
Why did the CIA support Gulenists in Central Asia? It is no secret that the CIA and Washington support Gulenists in Central Asia to counter the Iranian version of the Shia religious influence there. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, there was a social, political, and religious vacuum. Central Asian states were weak, so obviously the world would ask who would fill that vacuum. Even at that time when Gulen sent his followers to Central Asia, he asked them to hasten, urging, “If you don’t go now, later this door could be closed, and others will fill your place.” It was not a surprise that Islam filled that vacuum because the majority of the Central Asian countries have a Muslim heritage. Having recently emerged from an atheistic Communism, they more readily embraced their traditional religion. But after the collapse of Soviet Union the balance of power changed as well. Before this downfall, the East was dominated by the Soviet Union and the West by America, but afterwards the United States became the single superpower and thus had its chance to extend its power to Central Asia.
Another player that tried to benefit from this power vacuum, thus bringing about the US alliance with Gulen , was Iran, because it was important for Iran to be involved in the political and social process of Central Asian countries, Furthermore, Iran wanted to influence the newly independent states with the Shia version of Islam, so that they could export the Islamic revolution to these countries and thereby tie them more closely to Iran. Iran’s neighboring Central Asian country, Tajikistan, does not have Turkic roots but rather is more Persian. Because of the hostile relations between Iran and the United States, the collapse of the Soviet bloc was not a desirable event for Iran because Iran and the Soviet Union were allies to confront the United States. Therefore, the collapse of the Soviet Union raised the question about which model the Central Asian countries should use as an example. There were two choices: one was Iran whose hostility against the US interests in the region were well known, and the second choice was Turkey. The US was nervous that Iran would back a radical
Islamic movement in the Central Asian countries to create Islamic regimes that would be loyal to Iran and threatening to American national interests in the region; therefore, Washington urged the Central Asian countries to adopt the Turkish model, which at the time was supposed to be based on secularism, a free market economy, and democracy. Then in 1992, the US Secretary of the State, James Baker, during his trip to Central Asia, urged the Central Asian countries to adopt the seemingly secular and democratic Turkish model for their political and economical development, not the Iranian model. Especially after 9/11, the US invasion of Afghanistan increased the political will that the US should more intensely confront Iran because the US claimed Iran made it more difficult to win the battle against terrorism because it aided Al-Qaida.
Thus, Turkey and Iran began fighting for a new hegemonic power in Central Asia. Because of the new states’ religious and ethnic ties with Turkey, the demise of U.S.S.R. opened a new door of opportunity for Turkey to renew its kinship with them and its interest in their rich resources, and many Muslims, opened a vast number of schools and invested in businesses there for the long run. However, after the Soviet Union fell, a political space allowed for the rapid growth of Fundamentalism as well as for new national identities. Many Central Asian students went outside their countries, especially to Saudi Arabia and to Egypt to relearn their religion. In response the Gulen community established his religious schools to compete with Iranian Shi’ism and Saudi Wahabism in the region. Turkey desired to influence the republics with its Sunni religion, and Iran wanted to promulgate its Shia sect. In the face of these alternatives, the United States’ policy urged Turkey to become the dominant model for social-political and economic development in Central Asia and in the Middle East. The U.S. viewed Turkey as a democratic country with a free market economy that would influence the newly independent Central Asian countries. Consequently, Washington saw the influence of the Turkish brand of Islam in the Central Asia in a short run as in America’s interest but in the long run understood that it could backfire.
The story of the CIA’s involvement in this strategy emerges at this point. In
the short run the Turkish social and economic model would restrain the Iranian model of Fundamental Islam and thus slow the growth of Fundamentalism in Central Asia and would prevent a confrontational approach to the region’s problems. But Washington did not calculate the long-term US interest in the region because in the long run aligning with Turkish Islam could backfire and could damage the U.S.’s economic interests in the Central Asian and Middle Eastern regions. For example, in 1979, the U.S. supported the small evil Taliban regime in order to
contain the seemingly larger evil of the Soviet Union. After defeating the
bigger evil, the small evil became problematic for the U.S. in that region. The U.S.’s interest in Central Asia would be affected long-term by the new growth of the Turkish version of Islam. Today this version of Islam has become almost a dominant power in Central Asia especially in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan. The political space to gain such power may have resulted from Gulen’s courtship with the CIA in those countries.
I do not know why CIA agents still deny that they know about this association. Because of Fethullah Gulen’s vast network of schools and businesses, thousands of students are graduating each year from those schools, speaking Turkish, practicing the Turkish version of Islam, and moving into key governmental positions. With this strategy Gulen seeks to bring back the Ottoman Empire. Yet, Washington sees the movement only as an alternative to radicalism. Politically as well as religiously Turkey has been fighting for a long time for a new hegemonic power in the Middle East. In addition, Turkey and Iran have been competing for Islamic leadership. Who is the best suited to represent Islam? Turkish Muslims, like Fethullah Gulen, argue that the Ottoman Empire represented Islam for almost six hundred years, and thus the Turks are the only Muslims who represent true Islam. That’s why the CIA supports Gulen’s sect, and it is well known. If the CIA agents do not know anything about the Gulen movement, that means the US foreign interests are in danger, but, of course, the CIA, like Gulen, deny they do not have any relation because both are trained well and require covert operations for their success.Gulen urged his followers not to act prematurely, because it might cost them heavily. Gulen teaches his followers to know their enemy, explaining that if they know the enemy and know themselves, then they do not need to fear the outcome. Gulen trains his followers like CIA agents, thereby creating good obedient young soldiers ready to give their life for the purpose of this (Hizmet) service. I would claim that Gulenists are not working for the CIA, but rather Gulenists are using the CIA for their interest. They know how to use people for their purpose. For example, if today Gulenists’ schools are not closed in Central Asian countries, it is because Gulenists secretly sent the former President of Turkey, Turgot Özal, to visit the schools in Central Asian countries and to tell the heads of the States that they are not a threat, like CIA agent Fuller told the US government that Gulen is not a threat to the USA. The public did not know that the former President of Turkey had a connection with Gulen and his movement; the public did not know that Gulen secretly sent Özal to Central Asia to prevents his schools from being closed; the public did not know that Gulen sent former president Özal to the Balkans to promote his schools as well until Özal died in 1993, when Opal’s connecting with the movement became public. Also, Gulen himself one time said that he asked then President Özal, to intervene because the Gulenists had been kicked out of the military and police academy. Özal’ s answered to Gulen that he had been followed by the Turkish intelligence and everything had been wired, so the Gulenists knew that the CIA had been following them even infiltrated within them; that is why they were so careful.
Did the CIA help Gulenists in Uzbekistan or not? What went wrong in the summer of 1994-1995 in Uzbekistan? Why did so many Gulenists teachers and bellet men (dormitory counselors) go to Turkey for summer vacations and were not able to return to Uzbekistan? The Gulenists are not working for the CIA because in Uzbekistan in the summer of 1994, more than 150 Gulenists belletmen and teachers went to back to Turkey for summer vacation, but also more than 100 belletmen stayed in Uzbekistan, supposedly the first group would take their turn first, go to Turkey, and then come back so the next group could go. But they could not come back to Uzbekistan again because President Kerimov suspected their acvitivities and closed some of the schools. Thus, the half of the teachers and belletmen who were left behind in Uzbekistan could not go back to Turkey, because if they went back, they would not have been re-admitted and that would have been the end of the Gulenist movement in Uzbekistan. Gulen feared the closings could spread to other neighboring countries. He tried everyway to solve the problem, but the Uzbek government did not change its decision. It closed the schools and did not let the followers who had gone to Turkey back into Uzbekistan.
Gulenists used all their power but still failed; the reason they failed to solve
the problem with the Uzbek government was because one of the high positions in Gulen’s organization gave the sensitive information to the Uzbek government. The person who gave information was in charge of the belletmen, all the schools, and the English department; of course, some of the belletmens who stayed in Uzbekistan did nothing for almost one year, wasted their time, were upset, and wanted to kill the person, but Gulenists deported the person to Turkey. No one knows what happened to that person, whether he was excommunicated or whether he stayed in Turkey, but the rest of belletmens were sent to the neighboring countries of Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. It is not a secret that the CIA and the American government supported the Gulenist movement in Central Asia against Iran‘s influence there. Gulen slowly explained the connection with Ozal and the politics, but in reality, Gulen would say in public that they were not close to any party, but behind closed doors, he would support Ozal. To them, the party, ideology, or principles that “the host” is following is irrelevant; what matters for them is how they can use a person, institution, or source for their interest in a kind of symbiotic relationship. Furthermore, the founder and former leader of the Leftist Demokratik Sol Parti, Bulent Ecevit, praised Gulen during the soft coup against Gulen in 1995 and 1997. Ecevit convinced the secular military that Gulen and his community were serving the country with their schools. In particular, he noted that their schools in the Central Asian republics had decreased Iran's influence there. It is true that the US embassy and consulates in Central Asia made it easy for Gulenists to get visas to come to the States from post-Soviet countries; for example, the president of a university in Georgia is the mother of the President of Georgia.
Students from those schools and particularly Gulenists’ favorite students have an easy way to come to the USA. Some of their schools even have a connection under the academic and student platform to come to the States. Why would the Gulenists deny their relation to the CIA? The truth seems to be optional for Gulenists. According to Gulen’s teachings, his followers have an obligation to know the truth but that truth cannot be revealed anywhere anytime, because if the time is not right, they cannot tell the truth. For example, the strategy of denial is fabricated to appear that they are not part of any movement or community if any charge against them appears in the news. Sometimes if they need to prevaricate for the sake of the movement, they can deny any accusation, and by being cautious not give way all the information. Rather, they are to work patiently and silently until all the institutions are in order to seize power. Timing about when and how to reveal their true goal is very crucial for the Gulenists. Gulenists are experts on how to buy and use persons for their interest.
Therefore, a lie can be justified. Gulenists are very good at using someone for their interest; it does not matter whether he is a criminal or a dictator as
long as he or she helps his movement to advance. A good example is the President of Turkmenistan, who is a dictator, but they praised him. Gulen trained his followers that when they go to a place, not to denigrate the authority even if he is cruel because if they do, he will harm them or their cause.
Because of their secrecy, deception, unethical tactics for silencing critics
including threats and intimidation, deliberate misinformation campaigns,
brainwashing, and the use of bribery to recruit supporters, the movement is
successful. Gulen has done his calculations many times before his followers go to battle. Sun Tzu said, “He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.” Gulenists know their enemy well and that is why they do not fear the result of their fight. The problem is that the West does not know that the enemy is within, so they should be worried about the result of the fight. A country can survive its fools and its opportunists; however, it cannot endure the enemy from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly, like Al-Qaida. But the enemy within moves freely amongst those within the gates, but surely he is whispering and rustling through all the alleys. For the enemy within speaks, eats, acts, dresses, and behaves in ways familiar to his victims. I do not believe Gulen’s schools and civic organizations are merely motivated by the selfless desire to promote education, but rather they aim to foster the Ottoman Empire’s ideology and to have global
power. What other organizations promoting civil society are so secretive,
reactive, murky, and opaque? What other organization encourage their
organization to infiltrate all the institutions and establishments? As for his relation to CIA, it is clearly mutual and symbolic one. As in Biology, the two live in association with one another. The specific from of symbiosis is mutualism in that both benefits. The CIA believes that it ameliorates radicalism by associating with Gulenists, and Gulen receives the protection and a foil by the CIA’s involvement