In an official indictment against individuals allegedly tied to Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish prosecutor has argued that Gulen’s Hismet organization is a CIA project and compared it to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) and the Church of Scientology.
All three, prosecutor Zafer Dur reportedly claims, were founded by the U.S. government to “make change to society,” according to a translation of his indictment by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet. The report does not specify what kind of changes those might be, though given its negative disposition towards Gulen, it can be inferred that such changes are undesirable.
“Investigative journalists have been reporting that [Gülenists] worked as contractors for foreign intelligence services such as the CIA, MI6 and BND and infiltrated into the intelligence services of other countries acting in the name of the services they worked for,” the indictment allegedly claims. “Without international backing, Gülen could not have opened schools in 160 countries.”
Gulen, who resides in Pennsylvania, is considered the leader of a terrorist cult by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His Hismet Islamic charter schools are active throughout the United States and have been raided by the FBI for alleged fiscal improprieties, though the United States has not accused him of having any ties to terrorism.
Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) claim Gulen is responsible for organizing the failed coup against them on July 15. Gulen has denied the charges. Ankara has made multiple demands for the United States to extradite Gulen, and has rounded up hundreds of thousands accused of being members of the “Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization” (FETO), arresting, temporarily detaining, or firing over 100,000 Turks since the date of the coup attempt. Many of those affected were soldiers, significantly diminishing the military’s numbers.
“The evidence is crystal clear. We know the terrorist cult responsible for the vicious attacks against us and the Turkish people. We simply cannot understand why the U.S. cannot just hand over this individual,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said in early August.
The indictment translated by Hurriyet indicates the Turkish government may be preparing to argue that the U.S. was involved in the failed coup attempt through the alleged CIA support of Gulen, for which the indictment provides no evidence. Reports immediately following the coup claimed significant popular suspicion of American involvement in the coup, with some newspapers publishing reports claiming that NATO had sent soldiers into Turkey to help take over the presidential palace.
The U.S. government has asked Turkey to be patient as American investigators explore the case against Gulen. In an editorial published in Turkish, Vice President Joe Biden explained that it would be illegal for President Barack Obama to unilaterally order the extradition of anyone legally in the United States, particularly one claiming political asylum. American officials have also insisted that Turkey has not sent over any evidence linking Gulen to the failed coup attempt. The Turkish government confirmed to Foreign Policy that, indeed, none of the evidence of criminal activity sent to Washington had anything to do with the “obvious” claim that Gulen had orchestrated the failed coup.