Between Clinton And Mysterious Turkish Cleric
By Chuck Ross
July 17, 2016 "Information
- 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
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.
accused Gulen of attempting to undermine the Turkish
government. Gulen’s followers control many Turkish
institutions, including the media, courts, and
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.
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
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
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
schools, which number more than 150, have been a
source of controversy for the Gulen movement.
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
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.
did not return a request for comment. Nor did Ozkok,
who has affiliations with Gulen-connected education
firms Sema Education and Apple Education Services.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
from New York, Clinton gave a keynote address at the
Turkish Cultural Center’s annual banquet.
to Abedin, which is the first piece of communication
showing that a Gulen follower had direct access to
Clinton’s staff, sought a favor.
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
1, 2009 email from Gokhan Ozkok to Huma Abedin.
Obtained by Judicial Watch
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.
Abedin (R) and Clinton campaign spokesman Nick
Merrill (L). (REUTERS)
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.
As for the
Podesta Group, the lobbying firm has connections to
several controversial companies seeking to peddle
influence at Clinton’s State Department.
Caller investigations have revealed that the Podesta
has represented Uranium One, a Russia-controlled
uranium company that had ties to Canadian mining
magnate and Clinton Foundation philanthropist Frank
Group also lobbied Clinton’s State Department
on behalf of BAE Systems just as the U.K.
defense contractor was facing stiff government
sanctions for illegal arms trading. The Associated
Press has sued the State Department for records
pertaining to discussions to let BAE Systems off
with a slap on the wrist for its infractions.
favorite lobbying firm
also started working last year for Islami Bank
Bangladesh, a Bengali bank that has been linked
to terrorist groups. And earlier this year, Tony
Podesta, the Clinton bundler and Podesta Group
was hired by the Saudi government.
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