A report from Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) recently suggested that the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) earned half-a-billion U.S. dollars from its 312 education institutions across the U.S., describing the country as the main center of activities of the group.
“The organization [FETÖ] gets $500 million in income from the U.S. through 155 charter schools in 27 states, with 60,000 students and 5,000 employees,” the MİT said in a report sent to a parliamentary panel examining the July 2016 coup attempt staged by FETÖ, the term used to describe the movement of Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
FETÖ has a total of 312 schools in the United States, including four universities and 155 charter schools, which constitute a significant financial resource, read the MİT’s report. In 2016, FETÖ applied to open 12 new charter schools, the report said, adding that the biggest charter schools networks are in Texas, Ohio, California and Florida.
The four FETÖ-linked universities are the North American University in Texas, the American Islamic College in Illinois, the Virginia International University in Virginia, and the Respect Graduate School in Pennsylvania. There is also the Gülen Institute in Houston. Gülen himself has lived in Pennsylvania since 1999 and controls his worldwide organization from the U.S.
Turkey has been pressing the U.S. government for the extradition of Gülen on the grounds that he was the mastermind of the July 2016 coup attempt, but Ankara has not received a positive response so far.
US main center of FETÖ activities: MİT
Turkey’s intelligence agency underlined that the U.S. is now the main center of activities of FETÖ because its leader and main executives live in the country, the high-level political relationships it has cultivated, its strong civil society ties, and its financial resources there.
“The activities of this organization in the U.S. are centered on New Jersey, Washington, Pennsylvania, Texas, Houston, Nashville, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Boston – all states with a populous Turkish community,” read the report.
Alleged US influence
The MİT report does not go further in exploring the U.S.’s influence and connections to Gülen’s nearly four-decade efforts to set up his own structure within the Turkish state apparatus. However, the wider report prepared by the parliamentary panel does.
The parliamentary report recalls that Gülen was an active member of an anti-communism association linked with “some influential foreign groups” in Erzurum between 1962 and 1963. It suggests that his service there might have given him the chance to establish his first foreign contacts.
The parliamentary report also claims that Gülen was contacted by the MİT – in cooperation with U.S. intelligence – through this anti-communist association, which later allowed him to form his own Gülenist structure with the cooperation of the secret services of Turkey and the U.S.
It also informs that the massive yard in which Gülen’s mansion and compound is located in Pennsylvania was bought by one of Gülen’s closest friends in 1980s under the title of the Foundation of the Golden Generation.
Both the intelligence agency’s report and the parliamentary reports will certainly have important effects on Turkey’s ongoing struggle against the international structure of FETÖ, particularly in the U.S.