“In the 1990s Gulen’s Madrasas sheltered 130 CIA agents” in Kyrgyzstan & Uzbekistan”
Yesterday Washington Post’s Jeff Stein published a very interesting but incomplete story regarding a recently published memoir by former Turkish Intelligence Chief Osman Nuri Gundes. Here is the title of his post: Islamic group is CIA front, ex-Turkish Intel chief says. For those of you familiar with my case and what I’ve been covering here at Boiling Frogs Post this exposé is ‘old news’ but nonetheless a vindication. As for those who are first-timers here or not that familiar with my case, this is an opportunity for a bit of background and to learn a few important points and facts that you won’t be getting from this ‘half-picture’ presented by the Washington Post.
In his memoir Gundes claims that Fethullah Gulen’s worldwide Islamic movement based in Pennsylvania 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.
Now, as I’ve done before, I am going to praise Jeff Stein, whom I know and like, for his solid journalistic talent and background and give him a few credits for actually covering this story (it is one of those ‘thou shall not cover’ areas in an agreement between the US mainstream media and the US government), before I bash the piece, its half-a.. coverage, incomplete background, and it’s incredibly lenient treatment of a shady-dubious-charlatan, a major player in this operation yet a major denier when confronted by Stein; Graham Fuller. Again, as before, I am going to blame it on the unfortunate situation of ‘having to sell your journalistic soul to earn your living.’
Let’s start with Gulen. The only background provided on Gulen is the following with only one link which takes you to Gulen’s marketing site:
…an influential former Turkish imam by the name of Fethullah Gulen, has 600 schools and 4 million followers around the world.
The imam left Turkey in 1998 and settled in Saylorsburg, Pa., where the movement is headquartered. According to Intelligence Online, he obtained a residence permit only in 2008 with the help of Fuller and George Fidas, whom it described as head of the agency’s outreach to universities.
There is no mention of Gulen’s decade-long ‘wanted’ status in Turkey (until recently), no mention of the ban on Gulen and his Madrasas in several Central Asian countries, no mention of various investigations of Gulen by other western countries, no mention of the unknown sources of his billions of dollars…As we all know except for a very few, and by that I mean a number in 100s if that, no one in this country has ever heard of this guy with his billions, with his castle in Pennsylvania, his hundreds of Madrasas, now hundreds of US charter schools, his dubious businesses….Yet, for an article as serious as this (Madrasas and mosques as CIA operation centers in Central Asia), the central figure in the story has been given one sentence; no history, no relevant facts…
Those of you who have not read our previous commentaries and updates on this topic can check them out here, here, here, and here, and below is a list of a few Gulen related facts totally (mysteriously?) absent from Washington Post piece:
-In 1999 Gulen defected to the US shortly before his scandalous speech, where he is heard calling on his supporters to “work patiently and to creep silently into the institutions in order to seize power in the state”, became public. Turkish prosecutors demanded a ten-year sentence for Gülen for having “founded an organization that sought to destroy the secular apparatus of state and establish a theocratic state”. Mr. Gulen has not left the United States since.
-The Netherlands has taken major steps to cut funding to all Gülen associated organizations and is investigating his operations. The Turkish Fethullah Gülen movement is really an Islamic fundamentalist group, claims Rotterdam council member Anita Fähmel (Leefbaar Rotterdam) on the basis of her own study of the Turkish movement.
-In 1999 Uzbekistan closed all Gulen’s Madrasas and shortly afterward arrested eight journalists who were graduates of Gulen schools, and found them guilty of setting up an illegal religious group and of involvement in an extremist organization.
-In Turkmenistan, government authorities have placed Gulen’s schools under close scrutiny and have ordered them to scrap the history of religion from curriculums.
Now, back to the story and its other major short coming:
Apparently Mr. Stein was not able to reach Gulen for comment, so he moved on to his CIA sources with ‘long ties to Central Asia.’ First he quotes his first source, Former CIA operative Robert Baer, chief of the agency’s Central Asia and Caucasus operations from 1995 through 1997, who called the allegations bogus. However, Mr. Baer added: “It’s possible that the CIA turned around this ship after I left.”
I don’t have a problem with Baer’s response. Based on what I personally know, US Islamization Operations in Central Asia via Gulen started in late 1997, early 1998. That brings me to what truly set me off, Stein’s second source and actually a character who is pointed to by the new memoir’s author – Graham Fuller:
Graham Fuller, a former CIA station chief in Kabul and author of “The Future of Political Islam,” threw cold water on Gundes’s allegations about Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
“I think the story of 130 CIA agents in Gulen schools in Central Asia is pretty wild,” Fuller said by e-mail.
“I should hasten to add that I left CIA in 1987 — nearly 25 years ago — and I have absolutely no concrete personal knowledge whatsoever about this. But my instincts tell me the claim is highly improbable.”
Next, Jeff Stein very gently confronts Fuller with the fact that according to the memoir and related media coverage Gulen obtained his US residence permit with his (Fuller’s) help, and Fuller denies it and says that’s ‘wrong,’:
“What I did do,” Fuller explained, “was write a letter to the FBI in early 2006 …at a time when Gulen’s enemies were pressing for his extradition to Turkey from the U.S. In the post 9/11 environment, they began spreading the word that he was a dangerous radical. In my statement to the FBI I offered my views…that I did not believe he posed a security threat of any kind to the U.S. I still believe that today, as do a large body of scholars on contemporary Islam.”
First of all, there have been tens if not hundreds of articles establishing Graham Fuller as one of Gulen’s official references to the court for his residency, you can view some of these here, here, here. This quote comes from Foreign Policy Journal:
Fethullah Gulen became a green card holder despite serious opposition from FBI and from Homeland Security Department. Former CIA officers (formally and informally) such as Graham Fuller and Morton Abromovitz were some of the prominent references in Gulen’s green card application.
Next is the question of why. Why and in what capacity has Fuller been this active, this supportive, of Gulen? I am talking about this voluntary ‘I wrote a letter to the FBI on Gulen’ line:
…was write a letter to the FBI in early 2006 …at a time when Gulen’s enemies were pressing for his extradition to Turkey from the U.S. In the post 9/11 environment, they began spreading the word that he was a dangerous radical. In my statement to the FBI I offered my views…that I did not believe he posed a security threat of any kind to the U.S. I still believe that today, as do a large body of scholars on contemporary Islam.
And Stein let that slide?! I’d quickly ask: ‘how often do you write to the FBI on people you think have been unfairly targeted or treated by them?!’
Last but not least on Graham Fuller is my own on-the-record, more accurately, on-the-album, naming of individuals implicated (criminally) in my case, thus protected via invocation of the State Secrets Privilege:
Coinciding with the publication of the first article in a series in Britain’s Sunday Times covering some of her allegations, former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds posts a gallery of 18 photos of people and three images of question marks on her website, justacitizen.com The 21 images are divided into three groups, and the page is titled “State Secrets Privilege Gallery.”… “The third group includes people who all appear to work at think tanks—primarily WINEP, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy”: Graham E. Fuller—RAND Corporation, David Makovsky—WINEP, Alan Makovsky—WINEP, ? (box with question mark), ? (box with question mark), Yusuf Turani (president-in-exile, Turkestan), Professor Sabri Sayari (Georgetown, WINEP), and Mehmet Eymur (former head of the Turkish intelligence agency MIT).
I am going to leave you with the following excerpts from my interview with Phil Giraldi for the Am Con Magazine in 2009, on Gulen, CIA Central Asia operations & the use of Islam and Mujahideen there-1997-2001, [All emphasis mine]:
GIRALDI: You also have information on al-Qaeda, specifically al-Qaeda in Central Asia and Bosnia. You were privy to conversations that suggested the CIA was supporting al-Qaeda in central Asia and the Balkans, training people to get money, get weapons, and this contact continued until 9/11…
EDMONDS: I don’t know if it was CIA. There were certain forces in the U.S. government who worked with the Turkish paramilitary groups, including Abdullah Çatli’s group, Fethullah Gülen.
GIRALDI: Well, that could be either Joint Special Operations Command or CIA.
EDMONDS: Maybe in a lot of cases when they said State Department, they meant CIA?
GIRALDI: When they said State Department, they probably meant CIA.
EDMONDS: Okay. So these conversations, between 1997 and 2001, had to do with a Central Asia operation that involved bin Laden. Not once did anybody use the word “al-Qaeda.” It was always “mujahideen,” always “bin Laden” and, in fact, not “bin Laden” but “bin Ladens” plural. There were several bin Ladens who were going on private jets to Azerbaijan and Tajikistan. The Turkish ambassador in Azerbaijan worked with them.
There were bin Ladens, with the help of Pakistanis or Saudis, under our management. Marc Grossman was leading it, 100 percent, bringing people from East Turkestan into Kyrgyzstan, from Kyrgyzstan to Azerbaijan, from Azerbaijan some of them were being channeled to Chechnya, some of them were being channeled to Bosnia. From Turkey, they were putting all these bin Ladens on NATO planes. People and weapons went one way, drugs came back.
GIRALDI: Was the U.S. government aware of this circular deal?
EDMONDS: 100 percent. A lot of the drugs were going to Belgium on NATO planes. After that, they went to the UK, and a lot came to the U.S. via military planes to distribution centers in Chicago and Paterson, New Jersey. Turkish diplomats who would never be searched were coming with suitcases of heroin.
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This article was first published at Boiling Frogs Post.
Sibel Edmonds is the founder and publisher of Boiling Frogs Post, an online news, analysis, and weekly Podcast interview site covering select but significant blacked out stories and issues. Ms. Edmonds is also the founder and director of National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, NSWBC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to aiding national security whistleblowers. PEN American Center awarded Ms. Edmonds the 2006 PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award for her “commitment to preserving the free flow of information in the United States in a time of growing international isolation and increasing government secrecy”. She is also the recipient of the 2004 Sam Adams Foundation Award. Ms. Edmonds has a MA in Public Policy and International Commerce from George Mason University, and a BA in Criminal Justice and Psychology from George Washington University. She is certified as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and as an instructor for the Women’s Domestic Violence Program. She is fluent in Turkish, Farsi and Azerbaijani.
She has appeared on national radio and TV as a commentator on matters related to whistleblowers, national security, and excessive secrecy & classification, and has been featured on CBS 60 Minutes, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and in the New York Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The American Conservative, and others.