Who is Fethullah Gülen? This question has become a matter of public interest within Turkey and abroad, as the outspoken cleric and his Gülen Movement continue to expand their influence throughout the world.
Gülen has presented himself as a peaceful proponent of interfaith dialogue, using a meticulously crafted public image to gain support for his teachings. He operates a network of educational institutions that spans every continent but Antarctica, though investigations have revealed that these institutions operate more as indoctrination centers than as legitimate schools.
Gülen’s activities in his native Turkey led to the creation of a “parallel state” in the country. A strategic infiltration of key institutions such as the police, military, and judiciary allowed Gülen to inundate senior bureaucratic and administrative posts with his devout followers, at the expense of Turkey’s institutional stability.
After videos surfaced in 1999 of the preacher calling for his followers to work within Turkish institutions to establish an Islamist state, Gülen went into self-imposed exile in the United States. As in countless other countries, Gülen oversees here a network of charter schools to recruit new members to his movement.
This cult-like movement is founded upon a deeply troubling ideology. Gülen’s English-language discourses present a pacifistic and moderate Islamic doctrine. Those who have studied his original teachings in Turkish, however, warn of profoundly anti-secular, anti-Western, and anti-Semitic elements. Most unsettling is Gülen’s mandate that his followers “move in the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing [their] existence, until [they] reach all the power centres.”
His educational network is buttressed by a business empire worth an estimated $25-60 billion. The US is home to numerous Gülen-affiliated firms, which work in tandem with his government-funded charter schools to launder taxpayer money through H1-B visa fraud and opaque, often nonexistent bidding processes for contract work.
His schools, present in 26 US states, have been the target of countless reports of nepotistic grading practices, inflating grades of Gülen-affiliated pupils and arbitrarily lowering those of students whose parents have voiced concern. The schools also disproportionately import teachers from Turkey–often with dubious credentials and little command of the English language–citing a “critical shortage” of qualified instructors in the US. These Turkish teachers are paid significantly more than their non-Turkish counterparts, as many of them can be trusted to “donate” a portion of their salaries back to the Gülen Movement.
These salaries, and all other operational costs of the schools, come out of public coffers, as charter schools, like public schools, are funded by US taxpayer dollars.
To quell suspicion among government administrators, the Gülen Movement has bankrolled lavish trips to Turkey for elected officials in 42 US states. Fethullah Gülen himself has received numerous accolades from government officials and entities in exchange for generous campaign contributions and kickbacks.
It should be of great public concern that the largest charter school network in the country is run by a man who faces an impending extradition request. Hidden behind a carefully constructed façade lies a movement whose methodology entails undermining government institutions in order to establish a theocratic state.
It is the purpose of this website to explore the question of Fethullah Gülen’s true identity and ultimate aims, providing facts and evidence to underscore the gravity of not only the threat that he poses to the elected government of a crucial ally like Turkey, but also the damage he is causing to U.S. taxpayers.