One of the Gulen-linked charter schools
A large network of jihad-preaching schools dots the American landscape, and it’s being paid for by taxpayer dollars.
The network of more than 100 facilities in 27 states is the result of the work of Turkish expatriate billionaire Fethullah Gulen, who lives in a heavily guarded compound near Saylorsburg, Pa.
Terrorism analyst, author and Family Security Matters contributing Editor Paul Williams explains that Gulen left Turkey under a cloud, and came to the United States carrying an agenda.
“Fethullah Gulen is a chap who fled Turkey in 1998. He was attempting to avoid prosecution from the secular government at that time; he wanted to set up an Islamic government,” Williams explained.
“He moved to Pennsylvania and established a mountain fortress around Saylorsburg, which is in the heart of the Poconos,” Williams explained.
Court records from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s federal courts indicate that Gulen won his removal case against Homeland Security by showing that he was an “alien of extraordinary ability,” and that by staying in the United States he could pursue his work of “authoring articles and providing guidance ‘to fellow scholar in the fields of theology, political science, Islamic studies, and education.’”
Williams says Gulen had help.
“The Department of Homeland Security uncovered that Gulen has over $25 billion in assets. That’s more money than many countries have. Most of this money has been channeled to Gulen from the CIA,” Williams asserted.
Koinonia Institute senior analyst Steve Elwart says Gulen was helped by a number of different factors.
“He was denied his visa the first time around by DHS by saying that he didn’t have any experience since he was trying to come in as an educator. DHS said that he really didn’t have the qualifications to hold himself out as an educator,” Elwart observed.
Elwart says there was another concern.
“There were also concerns about his ties to the CIA and that as it turned out, those concerns were apparently valid, because when he appealed the decision, he got two letters of recommendation from the CIA,” Elwart continued.
Listen to an interview with Elwart:
“That would strengthen the position that he did seem to have those ties,” Elwart added.
Williams explains that U. S. officials may have had a reason for funneling money to Gulen.
“I’ll tell you why the CIA is funding him. These countries (referring to the Middle East and former Soviet Central Asian Republics) have vast natural gas and oil reserves. They are afraid of where those reserves will go, so we want to gain some control over the supplies,” Williams claimed.
Now his fingerprints are all over schools across Asia – and dozens more charter schools across the United States. Those are schools that are run on the taxpayers’ money, but have private teaching agendas, often using the subtle inferences in social studies courses to advocate for Islam, observers report.
“He has these schools all over Central Asia and these counties, Tajikistan, Kurdistan, all have Turkish backgrounds. They speak Turkish. They share a Turkish culture. They share the same religion so it’s really easy for him to establish these schools throughout Central Asia,” Williams explained.
“They have prospered; they have grown and the countries where they are have become increasingly militant and increasingly anti-American,” Williams added.
Williams says Gulen put his money to work, first in his home country of Turkey.
“He used that money to create this political party in Turkey and to take over the newspapers, and almost all of the Turkish media. He’s also created a network of Islamic charter schools in Turkey that has spread through Central Asia, particularly in the newly created Russian republics,” Williams also stated.
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“Gulen’s movement is so radical that it is outlawed in Russia and even in The Netherlands, a country that’s known for its tolerance, would not allow any funding for the Gulen schools,” Williams added.
Elwart adds that there was one still another factor influencing U.S. assistance to Gulen.
“There has been a movement in the last two administrations to promote what they call moderate Islam by bringing these people forward and financing them to get people inculcated into the Muslim culture,” Elwart explained.
“In terms of following the money trail, part of it I think was from the United States government. There were a number of people out there that see him as a religious leader which in fact he comes from a family of imams, and people donate to him,”
Williams asserts that Gulen’s long-range plans are to re-establish an Islamic caliphate.
“He created a party which is called the Justice and Development Party. The prime minister is Tayyip Erdogan. He’s severed relationships with Israel and he’s allied himself with Iran,” Williams observed.
MEMRI Turkish expert Rachel Sharon-Krespin writes in an article in Middle East Quarterly that Fethullah Gulen is a major player in Turkish politics. Besides the Justice and Development Party, he also owns, controls or operates a network of schools and universities in Turkey, as well as the major newspapers and television stations.
In an American Thinker article, Center for Islamic Pluralism Director Stephen Schwartz says that Gulen is the power not only behind a movement in Turkey, but is the controlling force behind what Schwartz calls a Turkish Diaspora.
Elwart agrees that Gulen’s intention is to use his schools to indoctrinate the students into Islam at taxpayer expense.
“Gulen has started his school system in the United States through the charter school system, which of course is publicly financed. That is one of the big worries about the Gulen movement is that they’re using the charter schools to educate these kids and give them Islamic indoctrination, so to speak, and it’s being done at taxpayer expense,” Elwart observed.
Listen to another interview with Elwart:
Williams says the indoctrination is subtle and administrators say the schools aren’t trying to be Islamic.
“They’ll say these schools are completely secular. These schools don’t promote any Islamic doctrine; they’re not political in any way. But according to Gulen himself these schools serve, in the shadows, the creation of a new Islamic order,” Williams maintained.
“If you read about Gulen in the foreign press, they have it pretty well nailed down. In speeches he talks about the importance of stealth jihad, of infiltrating places and appearing very secular,” Williams added.
Gulen’s claim to be a secular educator whose interest is simply in promoting interfaith dialogue appears to have been successful, as the claim was used to support District Judge Stewart Dalzell’s opinion in Gulen’s case.
“The final requirement is that an applicant show that his or her ‘entry into the United States will substantially benefit prospectively the United States.’ 8 U.S.C. § 1153(b)(1)(A)(iii). The AAO did not find-and the Government does not contend-that Gulen fails to meet this criterion. Based on his unchallenged statement that the visa he seeks ‘will allow me to continue to advocate and promote interfaith dialogue and harmony between members of different faiths and religions,’ A.R. at 1053, activities that are certainly a benefit to the United States in these times of tensions between adherents of different religions, we find no basis for denying his application on that basis,” Paragraph E of the opinion stated.
Williams disputes the judge’s ruling and says that Gulen’s own speeches say the opposite.
“In his own speeches he says you can really infiltrate a secular government in a place like the United States and wreak all kinds of havoc. That’s what he’s been doing. Once again the schools are funded by us. They’re at least 140 of them. He’s been called the most dangerous Islamist in the world and very little light is being shed on him and his activities,” Williams stated.
Elwart says the potential indoctrination is very subtle, even though he believes it’s intentional.
“There is a certain amount of an Islamic-centered slant to their teaching. One place they really start bringing in the slant is through their after-school programs and what they call their outside programs,” Elwart observed.
“For example, they’ll have Turkish festivals and the kids can compete in making costumes, writings and the like. Many times the prize for these in these competitions is a cultural trip to Turkey,” Elwart also said.
Elwart believes that the Gulen charter schools are going largely unnoticed by the American public.
“This is a problem with the charter school system; it’s fragmented. There is not a lot of oversight on the schools so people are disconnected from one another. If they see something that isn’t quite right at their school they don’t have any place to go to to raise the alarm,” Elwart asserted.
Elwart says the schools are established and then each school brings in teachers from Turkey using H1B visas. These are visas granted to people with math and science skills.
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“Most of the time these applications will say they need to bring in these teachers because of the lack of math and science teachers available locally. The teachers that do come in are Muslim and almost all of them are from Turkey,” Elwart explained.
He explains that administrators are usually brought in on more temporary visas which explains the frequent turnover in the Gulen-connected schools.
The web site, Charter School Scandals, reports that the Pioneer Charter School for Science in Everett, Mass., is a Gulen School.
Pioneer Charter School of Science Public Relations Director Aimee Mott says that her school was started by a group of concerned parents.
“It was a community of really parents and other concerned members of the community who thought that in this area, Everett, Chelsea and Saugus area, that the public schools were not meeting all the needs of all the students,” Mott stated.
“They decided to get together, submit a charter to the state for our school and that was in 2006. So, our first year in operation was in 2007 and 2008,” Mott said.
Mott also says that the school’s newness means it relies on taxpayer dollars.
“Because we are a new charter school, all of our funding at this point comes from the state. We are funded just like a public, we are a public school. We are a public charter school,” Mott described. “We are working on applying for a grant to get some funding for some things.”
Listen to an interview with Mott:
The school’s web site gives few details on the school’s curriculum, provides no list of faculty members and lists only the principal and the board members.
The Massachusetts Department of Education school directory lists the head of the school as Barish Icin, and also gives the members of the school’s board of directors.
Among the board members listed are Board Chairman Murat Kilic, Mustafa
Ozdemir, Nuh Gedik and Ramazan Nigdioglu. A name origins web site, HearNames.com, verifies that all of the surnames are of Turkish origin.
Nigdioglu is also connected to the Cambridge Ridge and Latin School where he is on record as recommending that the best students at the Latin School be rewarded with a trip to Turkey.
Williams says that Gulen’s school network is well-funded, well-organized and well-represented.
“He has set up lobbying groups and through his lobbying groups he has given millions and millions of dollars to both Republicans and Democrats. He has gained their favor and support so his schools are rubber-stamped,” Williams observed.
Williams warns Gulen’s compound in the Poconos is much like the one in Islamburg, N.Y., that Williams says he’s visited.
“I went up there to take a look at his fortress and it is a fortress in the heart of the Pocono Mountains. Hundreds of Turks live there. According to all the neighbors there are helicopters constantly surveilling the area looking for intruders,” Williams described.
“There are sentry posts there and the neighbors have complained to the FBI about gunshots and explosions,” Williams added. “They have a foreign militia on American soil. If this doesn’t get people up in arms, I don’t know what will.”