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This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment .
Introduction: This broadcast revisits some developments presented in FTR #’s 535  and 537 , recorded in November and December of 2005. Examining developments in the Middle East, we asked if this country had proceeded headlong into a death-trap laid by the Underground Reich and using Muslim-Brotherhood linked Islamists as proxy warriors against the United States, just as the U.S. has used them against the Soviet Union, the former Yugoslavia and now, in “the Earth Island Boogie,” against Russia and China.
We note that, like an iron hand in a mailed-gloved-fist , the Underground Reich dwells within this country’s corporate and national security establishments. It is our belief that this will prove fatal to the United States in the long run.
In this broadcast, we analyze the possibility that “the Earth Island Boogie” may well result in the U.S. becoming fatally immersed in geopolitical quicksand.
In a number of programs, including FTR #’s 878 , 879 , 880 , 881 , 884 , 885 , we have examined the growing confluence between Muslim-Brotherhood derived Islamism and Pan-Turkist neo-Ottomanism. In the context of this analysis, we have scrutinized Turkey’s support for ISIS and military aggression, as well as the Erdogan government’s ongoing turn to fascism.
As this program is recorded, the global economy is reeling, in part because of the collapse of oil prices. With the Chinese economy in shaky territory, global demand for oil is falling. Saudi Arabia–the world’s largest oil producer–has refused to cut production. This is putting great pressure on the global economy, that of Russia in particular. We wonder if this is a recap of the Saudis’ ramping up of production in 1986, which undercut the price of oil and helped to bring down the U.S.S.R.?
(It will be interesting to see if the resulting economic damage also helps destabilize the American economy, helping to bring the GOP to power as a result. In FTR #214 , we saw how the Saudis collaborated with the CIA, the elder George Bush and the GOP to raise oil prices, create a phony “oil shortage” and destabilize the Carter administration. Might we be seeing a variation on that gambit now?)
We wonder if the Saudis are working to destabilize Russia? Might the Saudis be looking to establish a Wahhabi caliphate in the center of the Earth Island? Might it encompass the Caucasus, where the Saudis have been very active in support of the Chechens? Might the “new caliphate” also incorporate fossil-fuel-rich Xinjiang Province in China, where Turkey, the Pan-Turkist movement, the Grey Wolves and al-Qaeda-linked elements have been active? How might Turkish and Saudi/Wahhabi elements align with regard to the new caliphate? Might they work in tandem, or would they be rivals?
Following this line of speculation, we delve into the subject of ISIS.
Unfortunately, in the run-up to the American invasion of Iraq, both the pro-war and anti-war sides got it wrong with regard to Saddam’s relationship with Al Qaeda. Although there was no indication that Iraq or Saddam were involved with 9/11, the two entities did have a “doomsday back-up” arrangement . Saddam and bin Laden worked out an arrangement in which Iraq—in order to provide for a payback capability if the U.S. ousted him—gave information about WMD’s to bin Laden’s people. Al Qaeda, in turn, was to act as a back-up unit for Saddam’s Iraq, striking at the United States if it knocked out Saddam. Of course, precisely that scenario transpired.
The United States walked into this “Death Trap.” In the aftermath of the Iraq war, a disturbingly large percentage of the Muslim and Arab communities appear ready to join the conflict.
We note that former Iraqi military officers  are apparently playing a significant role in administering the military prowess of ISIS. Is this an outgrowth of the “doomsday plan” that Roland Jacquard reported? There has been much speculation about ISIS and WMD’s. Has ISIS acquired access to WMD’s as a result of the participation of Saddam Hussein’s officers in their ranks?
After reviewing Hitler’s view  that the Islamic world was potentially an invaluable asset to be used against the Allies, we examine that tactic against the background of recent developments.
Turkey’s ongoing behavior bears scrutiny. Closely allied with the EU and Germany , the Muslim Brotherhood-derived government of Erdogan in Turkey has turned with a vengeance against the Fetulah Gulen organization , alleged to be a CIA front and an extremist Muslim organization . The Gulenist milieu had been one of Erdogan’s strongest allies and a partner in repression  of political opponents.
Is this a turn by Turkey and Erdogan against the U.S./CIA and in alliance with the Underground Reich?
Program Highlights Include:
- A meeting in the spring of 2002 featuring Achmed Huber  of the Bank al-Taqwa, Gianfranco Fini of the Italian Alleanza Nationale, “former” SS officer Franz Schonhuber of the German Republikaner Partei, Jean Marie-Le Pen of the French National Front and an unnamed American fascist. In light of the fact that the BND-handled “Curveball” and the SISMI-directed Niger yellow-cake disinformation provided much of the intelligence misinformation used by the Bush administration to justify the ill-advised and ill-fated invasion of Iraq, we wonder if this meeting was designed to put a “honey-trap” in the path of the marauding American bear?
- Graham E. Fuller’s repudiation  of the allegation that the Fetullah Gulen organization was a CIA front.
- Review of Francois Genoud’s involvement with the al-Taqwa milieu.
- Review of al-Taqwa’s role in financing the 9/11 attacks.
- ISIS’s use of Libya  as a major base. Like the blood-bath unfolding in Syria, the ouster of Qaddafi and the subsequent rise of ISIS and other Islamist extremist groups in Libya is a direct outgrowth of the so-called “Arab Spring.”
1. As this program is recorded, the global economy is reeling, in part because of the collapse of oil prices. With the Chinese economy in shaky territory, global demand for oil is falling. Saudi Arabia, which is the world’s largest oil producer, has refused to cut production. This is putting great pressure on the global economy, that of Russia in particular. We wonder if this is a recap of the Saudis’ ramping up of production in 1986, which undercut the price of oil and helped to bring down the U.S.S.R.?
(It will be interesting to see if the resulting economic damage also helps destabilize the American economy, helping to bring the GOP to power as a result.)
We wonder if the Saudis are working to destabilize Russia? Might the Saudis be looking to establish a Wahhabi caliphate in the center of the Earth Island? Might it encompass the Caucasus, where the Saudis have been very active in support of the Chechens? Might the “new caliphate also incorporate fossil-fuel-rich Xinjiang Province in China, where Turkey, the Pan-Turkist movement, the Grey Wolves and al-Qaeda-linked elements have been active? How might Turkish and Saudi/Wahhabi elements align with regard to the new caliphate? Might they work in tandem, or would they be rivals?
2. Unfortunately, in the run-up to the American invasion of Iraq, both the pro-war and anti-war sides got it wrong with regard to Saddam’s relationship with Al Qaeda. Although there was no indication that Iraq or Saddam were involved with 9/11, the two entities did have a “doomsday back-up” arrangement. Saddam and bin Laden worked out an arrangement in which Iraq—in order to provide for a payback capability if the U.S. ousted him—gave information about WMD’s to bin Laden’s people. Al Qaeda, in turn, was to act as a back-up unit for Saddam’s Iraq, striking at the United States if it knocked out Saddam. Of course, precisely that scenario has transpired. The United States has walked into this “Death Trap,” and a disturbingly large percentage of the Muslim and Arab communities appear ready to join the conflict.
. . . . It appears, however, that this version is the publicly admissible one, the one that can pass political muster. According to the same sources, there was another scenario, more in keeping with the calculating mentality of Saddam Hussein and his secret services. In 1998, after declining all offers that had been made to them through official diplomatic channels, those services are reported to have established a secret operational ‘connection’ with bin Laden in Manila and in Kashmir. It was indeed difficult for Iraq to ignore an Arab like Osama bin Laden who so effectively humiliated the Americans.’ Colonel Khairallah al Takiriti, the brother of the head of Mukkhabarat, the intelligence services, is reported to have been named case officer for the connection. The arrest of two Morroccan associates of bin Laden in Rabat on November 11, 1998, made it possible to establish to establish the link with certainty. According to Western sources, the Iraqi services have sought to secure the assistance of bin Laden’s networks, in case Iraq were again to be attacked by the United States, in order to carry out attacks against American targets in Arab countries. . . .
. . . . According to Arab sources, in anticipation of a foreseeable reversal of alliances in Kabul, bin Laden had been in discreet contact since September 2000 with associates of Oudai Hussein, another of Saddam’s sons; the ground for agreement was the anti-Israeli and anti-American battle. Bin Laden and the Iraqis are said to have exchanged information about chemical and biological weapons, despite the opposition of some of the Baghdad leadership, including Tarik Aziz. . . .
3a. We note that former Iraqi military officers are apparently playing a significant role in administering the military prowess of ISIS. Is this an outgrowth of the “doomsday plan” that Roland Jacquard reported? There has been much speculation about ISIS and WMD’s. Has ISIS acquired access to WMD’s as a result of the participation of Saddam Hussein’s officers in their ranks?
As the Islamic State continues its march through Syria and Iraq, the jihadist group is quietly utilizing a network of former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party to help militarize a fighting force that has effectively erased the border between both nations and left roughly 6 million people under its rule.
The extent of this seemingly mismatched alliance is detailed in a new report by the New York-based intelligence firm, The Soufan Group. Despite a deep philosophical divide between ISIS and the Baath Party, the two sides have found “sufficient coincidence of interest to overcome any ideological disagreement,” the analysis, which will be released on Wednesday, found.
This “marriage of convenience,” as the report’s author, Richard Barrett describes it, can be seen throughout the ISIS hierarchy. The current head of the group’s military council, for example, is believed to be Abu Ahmad al Alwani, an ex-member of Saddam Hussein’s army. So too was al Alwani’s predecessor. Another member of the military council, Abu Muhanad al Sweidawi, was once a lieutenant colonel in Hussein’s air defense intelligence, but by early 2014 was heading ISIS operations in western Syria, according to the report.
Similarly, two deputies to the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, are former Baathists: Abu Muslim al Afari al Turkmani is believed to have been a senior special forces officer and a member of military intelligence in Hussein’s army. Today, as Baghdadi’s number two, he supervises ISIS operations in Iraq. The second deputy, Abu Ali al Anbari oversees operations in Syria. Both men are also thought to serve on the Islamic State’s main governing body, known as the Shura Council.
Even the appointment of al Baghdadi to lead the Islamic State of Iraq in 2010 is reported by an ISIS defector to have been engineered by a former Baathist: Haji Bakr, an ex-colonel from the Iraqi Revolutionary Guard. Bakr “initially attracted criticism from fellow members of the group for his lack of a proper beard and lax observance of other dictates of their religious practice,” the report notes, “But his organizational skills, knowledge of the Iraqi Army and network of fellow ex-Baathists made him a valuable resource.”
It’s this type of expertise and network of connections that has made former Baathists so valuable to the Islamic State, says Barrett. Case in point, he says, is the long-term planning and preparation seen in the Islamic State’s capture of Nineveh Province and its capital, Mosul, in June 2014. As he writes of the campaign:
This is not the work of neophyte enthusiasts inspired by their imagined rewards of martyrdom, it is clearly the result of detailed planning by people who know Iraq well, have prior experience and training, and are able to manage an organization with discipline and secrecy; all characteristics of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist supporters. . . . .
3b. Libya has become a major base  for ISIS, providing a platform for force projection into Africa. The situation in Libya, like the Syrian civil war, is a direct result of the so-called “Arab Spring,” one of the “conga-line ops” we spoke of in FTR #885 .
. . . . Many of the extremist groups are affiliates of Al Qaeda, which has had roots in North Africa since the 1990s. With the recent introduction of Islamic State franchises, the jihadist push has been marked by increasing, sometimes heated, competition.
But, analysts and military officials say, there is also deepening collaboration among groups using modern communications and a sophisticated system of roving trainers to share military tactics, media strategies and ways of transferring money.
Their threat has grown as Libya — with its ungoverned spaces, oil, ports, and proximity to Europe and the Middle East — becomes a budding hub of operations for both Al Qaeda and the Islamic State to reach deeper into Africa.
And as Africa’s jihadists come under the wing of distant and more powerful patrons, officials fear that they are extending their reach and stitching together their ambitions, turning once-local actors into pan-national threats. . . .
4. In his last will and testament, Hitler saw alliance with the Muslim world as a key to future Nazi world domination. It is against the background of this that much of the subsequent discussion should be evaluated. Note also that this political will and testament was bequeathed to Francois Genoud. Although he died in 1996, Genoud’s name crops up significantly in a number of important respects in the context of the events of 9/11. For an overview of Genoud’s career, see FTR#453 . For more information about Genoud and 9/11, see—among other programs—FTR#’s 343 , 354 , 371 , 456 , 498 , 499 . We examined Genoud’s links to the milieu of Al Taqwa and the Muslim Brotherhood in FTR #537 . For a contemporary interpretation of Hitler’s words, substitute the United States for Britain in the following context:
Testament of Hitler, Headquarters of the Fuhrer, February 4 to April 2, 1945, preface by Francois Genoud; noted as Footnote #8 in: “The Reds, The Browns and the Greens” by Alexandre Del Valle; Occidentalis; 12/13/04; p. 10. 
. . . . Adolf Hitler declared in his ‘Testament,’ reported by Martin Bormann: ‘All of Islam vibrates at announcement of our victories….. What can we do to help them…, how can it be to our interest and’ our duty? The presence next to us of the Italians… creates a malaise among our friends of Islam,… it hinders us from playing one of our better cards: to support the countries oppressed by the British. Such a policy would excite enthusiasm throughout Islam. It is, in effect, a particularity of the Muslim world that what touches one, whether good or ill, is felt by all the others…. The people ruled by Islam will always be nearer to us than France, in spite of the kinship of blood’ . . . .
5. Next, the program revisits a point of information discussed in—among other programs—FTR#’s 378 , 456 . In the spring of 2002, as the preparations for the Iraq war were underway, Al Taqwa director Achmed Huber networked with other American and European fascists and far rightists, including Gianfranco Fini, head of the Italian Alleanza Nationale. Might the meeting have had something to do with Iraq? Had the “Atlanticist” orientation of the P-2 milieu been superseded by an anti-U.S./Third Position orientation in the Italian fascist milieu? Did this meeting have anything to do with the feeding of false intelligence to the US in order to lure the country into a draining, expensive and (ultimately) fatal war with the Muslim population of the “Earth Island”? Note in this regard, that Fini was at that time the Italian foreign minister. Is it possible that the man (Fini) who characterized Mussolini as “the greatest statesman of the 20th century” has not changed his stripes? Is it possible that he was conferring with the other European fascist leaders in order to help lure the US into a trap? (For more on Huber, see—among other programs—FTR#’s 343 , 354 , 357 , 359 , 377 , 456 .)
. . . . Perhaps the most recent remarkable story concerning Huber comes from a brief item in the Swiss tabloid Blick that in an April 26, 2002 article by Alexander Sautter that Huber was involved in a meeting of far-right leaders from Europe. A photo showing Huber with Jean Marie Le Pen accompanies the article. The Blick story (available on the web) is as follows: ‘Mon Pelerin VD: Christian Cambuzat, the promoter (Scharfmacher) of the right extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen (73): The guru assembles together some of the top leaders of the European right. On the idyllic Mont Pelerin, they debate their crude ideas. At his secret visit to a spa in Switzerland, Le Pen hardly remained alone. Rightist leaders from all over Europe traveled to meet the extremist presidential candidate who was hosted by Cambuzat. Franz Schonhuber (79). Founder of the Republican Party in Germany and a former member of the SS. He talked with Le Pen who constitutes together with Schonhuber the ‘Front National’ Faction in the European parliament. Gianfranco Fini (50). Italian post-fascist, Mussolini admirer, and founder of the Alleanze Nationale. He also was at the meeting with Le Pen and Schonhuber. Ahmed Huber (74). The Swiss is on the Bush Administration blacklist . . . ‘I met le Pen at Mont Pelerin as he went to Christian Cambuzat’s spa,’ Huber told Blick yesterday. At the extremist rendezvous an American far right politician was also supposed to have taken part. [Note: the American is not further identified.—KC] Christian Cambuzat said that Le Pen (after the election) had again become the sharpest weapon of the ‘Front National’ because Le Pen changed his image from a venomous old man to a ‘kindly U.S. TV evangelist.’ Proudly Cambuzat brags, ‘With me Le Pen can relax well’ [from his political endeavors—KC]. And openly link up with new contacts. [Although the Blick story does not give details, Cambuzat runs a spa for the very rich, the Lemanique de Revitalisation, inside a hotel on the famous Mont Pelerin.]’ . . .
6. The Turkish AK Party (touted as a role model for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood) has a strong economic relationship with Germany and other European economic players.
. . . . The focus is on two particular aspects of Turkish policy. The first is that over the past few years, political Islam in Turkey has proven to be very cooperative with the EU. This is due to the economic rise of the conservative sectors of the Anatolian hinterland, which is organized within the Adelet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AKP), the party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and ruling party in Ankara since 2002. The AKP has a clearly Islamic orientation. The Anatolian enterprises forming the backbone of the party have close economic ties in EU countries. It is on this basis that the AKP has established intensive ties to Western Europe, and incorporated into its brand of political Islam a reorientation favorable to the EU. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) The party has since stood as a model for the possibility of Islamism having a pro-western character. In fact, over the past few years, several North African Islamic forces – including sectors of the influential Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood – have been orienting themselves on the AKP. According to a recent study, co-financed by the SPD-affiliated Friedrich Ebert Foundation, nearly two-thirds of the populations in seven Arab nations, including Egypt, would be in favor of their countries’ adopting the Turkish model. A pro-western orientation of the Muslim Brotherhood, implicit in such a model, would be appreciated in western capitals. . . .
- If the allegations concerning CIA involvement with the Gulenists are accurate, what might be the goal of the CIA/Gulen alliance?
- Might the GOP/petroleum industry/Underground Reich  element of CIA be aiming to use Islamists and/or Pan-Turkists against Russia and/or China?
- As preposterous as it may seem at first glance, might that same element of CIA and other Western intelligence services be promoting a “neo-Ottoman Empire” as a vehicle for gaining control of resource-rich parts of the “Earth Island,” petroleum-producing areas in particular?
- Might such a “neo-Ottoman Empire” be a key element in the ongoing “Earth Island Boogie?“ 
- The brand of Islam embraced by the Gulen organization is generally represented as moderate. Sibel Edmonds and, apparently, some of the group’s critics in Central Asia allege that the group is, in fact, extremist. If that is, in fact, the case, might the alleged CIA/Gulen alliance be part of the same political manifestation as the “Arab Spring” that we looked at in FTR #’s 734  through 739 ?
- The tactics apparently pursued by the Gulen organization suggest that its true nature is anything but moderate.
- The Turkish foreign minister is indeed pursuing a “neo-Ottoman,” Pan-Turkist agenda .
- What might be the agenda/goal of the considerable Gulenist presence in the United States?
- Is the FBI investigation of the Gulenist activities in the U.S. another example of the bureau cutting across an operation by elements of CIA?
- Is the Underground Reich  a player in this scenario?
. . . . That is apparently the claim of former top Turkish intelligence official Osman Nuri Gundes, who has published a memoir alleging that the Fethullah Gulen movement has been sheltering CIA agents in Central Asia since the 1990s. According to the Washington Post’s SpyTalk blog , “in the 1990s, Gundes alleges, the movement “sheltered 130 CIA agents” at its schools in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan alone.”The Gulen movement already is a controversial one in Central Asia, with governments cracking down to varying degrees because of the group’s alleged Islamist or pan-Turkic bent . And that’s without allegations of being a CIA stalking horse. . . .
. . . . Anyway, Sibel Edmonds, the FBI-translator-turned-whistleblower, says that account doesn’t go far enough , and the Gulen movement is an extremist Islamist one — and that the CIA is cooperating with them nevertheless: “. . . Based on what I personally know, US Islamization Operations in Central Asia via Gulen started in late 1997, early 1998 . . .”
7b. About the Erdogan government’s suppression of journalists:
In what is probably the country’s most important court case in at least five decades, hundreds of Turkish military officers are in jail and on trial for allegedly having plotted to overthrow the then newly-elected Justice and Development Party back in 2003. The case also happens to be one of the most absurd ever prosecuted in an apparent democracy. The evidence against the defendants is such an obvious forgery that even a child would recognize it as such. Imagine, if you can, something that is a cross between the Moscow show trials and the Salem witchcraft hysteria, and you will not be too far off.
The government’s case rests on a set of documents (mostly Word files) that describe in gory detail preparations for the coup (codenamed Sledgehammer), including false-flag operations to set the stage for the takeover and a list of cabinet members to be appointed. These are unsigned digital documents on electronic media (CDs, a detached hard drive, a flash drive) that have never been traced to actual military computers or otherwise authenticated. The military has vehemently denied that such plans ever existed.
Most tellingly, a torrent of evidence has come out since the documents first emerged that points to their fraudulent nature. The documents contain hundreds of anachronisms – names of NGOs, military installations, or firms that did not yet exist – that make clear beyond any reasonable doubt that they were produced years later and backdated to implicate the officers on trial. Some of the defendants have shown that they were outside the country at the time they are alleged to have prepared these documents or attended planning meetings.
An American forensic specialist has determined that the “hand writing” on the CDs was actually produced by mechanically replicating individual letters from the notebooks of one of the defendants. Deviations from military formatting suggest the documents were prepared by individuals not fully familiar with the army’s style requirements. As long-time Turkey analyst Gareth Jenkins put it to the New Yorker : “It’s absolutely clear that these documents have been forged.” . . . .
. . . . The Turkish military has a history of political intervention and has often clashed with the Islamists. So the allegations have been a godsend for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has exploited the trial to gain control over military promotions and to break the army’s political power.
But the real moving force behind this and a number of other similar trials is the Gülen movement, a key ally of the Erdoğan government made up of the followers of the Pennsylvania-based Turkish Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen. Gülenists have a long track record of framing their perceived opponents and engaging in judicial dirty tricks . Their control of key positions in the national police and judiciary enables them to mount targeted operations disguised as legal investigations. Prosecutors  scrutinizing them, whistleblowers  revealing their activities, critical journalists , and even businessmen have been among their victims , in addition to military officers. As Ahmet Şık, a journalist who wrote an expose about the movement and then found himself facing preposterous charges of helping terrorists even before the book was published, exclaimed on his way to jail: “he who touches [them] burns.” 
The police and prosecutors who have staged the coup plot trial are known Gülen sympathizers. And Gülenist media have worked overtime to shape public opinion, whipping up hysteria against the defendants and producing a steady stream of disinformation about the case. The occasional judge who has ruled in favor of the officers and commentators pointing to problems with the prosecutors’ evidence (including me) have become targets of Gülenist defamation. . . .
8. A former Turkish intelligence chief has claimed that the Gulen organization is a CIA front. Graham E. Fuller has dismissed this allegation. As we have seen, Fuller is a major advocate for the Muslim Brotherhood and its free-market, corporatist economic agenda.
A memoir by a top former Turkish intelligence official claims that a worldwide moderate Islamic movement based in Pennsylvania has been providing cover for the CIA since the mid-1990s.
The memoir, roughly rendered in English as “Witness to Revolution and Near Anarchy,” by retired Turkish intelligence official Osman Nuri Gundes, says the religious-tolerance movement, led by an influential former Turkish imam by the name of Fethullah Gulen, has 600 schools and 4 million followers around the world.
In the 1990s, Gundes alleges, the movement “sheltered 130 CIA agents” at its schools in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan alone, according to a report on his memoir Wednesday by the Paris-based Intelligence Online newsletter. . . .
. . . . Likewise, 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.”
Fuller added, “I cannot even imagine trying to credibly sell such a scheme with a straight face within the agency. As for Nuri Gundes, I am not aware of who he is or what he has written. But there is a lot of wild stuff floating around in Turkey on these issues and Gulen is a real hot button issue.” . . . .
9. Erdogan has turned on the Fetullah Gulen organization, formerly a very close and valuable ally. We have more questions than answers about this. Has Erdogan (Muslim Brotherhood and al-Taqwa derived) turned on the U.S.? Is he actually working for the Underground Reich/Germany/EU?
A Turkish court has issued an arrest warrant for the US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, a former ally of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan  who has since become a fierce critic.
In his request for the warrant, Istanbul public prosecutor Hasan Yilmaz accused Gülen of leading a criminal organisation. According to Turkish media reports, the charges include operating an armed terror group, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison. Yilmaz said that “sufficient tangible evidence showing that Gülen committed a crime was collected during the investigation.”
Turkish authorities are now able to apply to Washington for extradition of the elderly cleric, though such a request is likely to put strained relations with Turkey’s Nato ally under further pressure.
Following a string of orchestrated raids on media outlets with ties to the cleric last Sunday, the warrant marks another escalation in the battle between Erdoğan and Gülen, whose movement, also known as Hizmet, has millions of followers worldwide.
Erdoğan has accused his foe of establishing a “parallel structure” within the state by placing his followers in institutions such as the judiciary and the police, and of exerting strong influence through his media empire. Gülen denies any intent to overthrow Erdoğan or the Turkish government.
The European Union has strongly condemned the raids, which Erdoğan defended as a necessary response to “dirty operations” against the Turkish government.
Speaking at the opening of an extension to an oil refinery near Istanbul, Erdoğan told his EU critics to mind their own business: “We have no concern about what the EU might say, whether the EU accepts us as members or not, we have no such concern. Please keep your wisdom to yourself,” he said.
EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn described the police operation as “not really an invitation to move further forward” with Turkey . The US State Department has also expressed concern, urging Turkish authorities “to ensure their actions do not violate [the] core values [media freedom, due process, and judicial independence]”.
On Friday, a Turkish court also kept a media executive and three other people detained during Sunday’s raids in custody pending trial, all of them on charges of being members of a terrorist group.
Hidayet Karaca is the head of the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group, a media organisation known to have close ties to the Gülen movement. Ekrem Dumanli, editor-in-chief of the Zaman newspaper also linked to Gülen, was released pending trial, but forbidden from travelling abroad before the completion of the criminal investigation.
Human rights groups criticised the court’s decision. “Human Rights Watch is concerned at today’s court decision to place journalist and Samanyolu broadcasting group head, Hidayet Karaca, in pre-trial detention,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, HRW’s senior Turkey researcher. “Pre-trial detention should be the exception, and keeping journalists in custody on dubious terrorism charges without clear justification harms media freedom and is likely to further dent Turkey’s international reputation.”
The power and influence of the elderly cleric and his far-reaching network have long been a defining issue of Turkish politics. The domination of Erdoğan’s AKP in Turkey was aided by his alliance with Gülen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1998. Those who dared to speak up and criticise the Gülen movement were swiftly punished, often through dubious court cases and on fabricated charges.
The relationship between the two turned sour after a corruption scandal in December last year that implicated the government, Erdoğan’s closest associates and his family. Maintaining that the sleaze allegations were unfounded and part of a coup attempt led by Gülen, Erdoğan purged the police of thousands of officers, transferred prosecutors linked to the investigation and tightened control over the judiciary. Prosecutors dropped the corruption charges this year.
Erdoğan said that both the operations and the purges of state institutions would continue, and added that the judiciary and some others, including the state scientific agency Tubitak, must yet be “cleansed of all traitors”.