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Posted at 5:08 PM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Islamic group is CIA front, ex-Turkish intel chief says

By Jeff Stein

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.

The book has caused a sensation in Turkey since it was published last month.

Gulen could not be reached for comment.

But two ex-CIA officials with long ties to Central Asia cast doubt on Gundes’s charges.

Former CIA operative Robert Baer, chief of the agency’s Central Asia and Caucasus operations from 1995 through 1997, called the allegations bogus. "The CIA didn't have any ‘agents’ in Central Asia during my tenure,” he said.

It’s possible, Baer granted, that the CIA “turned around this ship after I left,” but only the spy agency could say for sure, and the CIA does not comment on operational sources and methods.

A U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said Gundes’s “accounts are ringing no bells whatsoever.”

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.”

Imam Gulen, “whose views are usually close to U.S. policy,” according to Intelligence Online, favors toleration of all religions, putting his movement in direct competition with al-Qaeda and other radical groups for the affection of Muslims across Central Asia, the Middle East and even Europe and Africa, where it has also expanded its reach.

Gundes, who was Istanbul station chief for Turkey’s MIT intelligence agency, “personally supervised several investigations into Gulen’s movement in the 1990s,” according to the newsletter’s report on his memoir, which has not been translated into English. The purpose of Gundes's investigation was not immediately clear. His own religious views could not be determined, but the influence of radical Islamist forces in Turkey swelled in the 1990s.

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.

Fuller says that’s wrong.

“I did not recommend him for a residence permit or anything else. As for George Fidas, I have never even heard of him and don't know who he is.”

“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.

“I do not at all consider Gulen a radical or dangerous.” Fuller continued. “Indeed in my view--and I have studied a lot of Islamist movements worldwide--his movement is perhaps one of the most encouraging in terms of the evolution of contemporary Islamic political and social thinking…”

Fidas could not be reached for comment, nor would the CIA answer questions about him. George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs lists him as a visiting professor and “Director for Outreach in the Office of the Assistant Director of Central Intelligence for Analysis and Production.”

But the title was abolished when the Director of National Intelligence was created several years ago, an informed source said.

By Jeff Stein  | January 5, 2011; 5:08 PM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy, Intelligence  | Tags:  Fethullah Gulen, Graham Fuller, Osman Nuri Gündeş, Robert Baer  
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Comments

Once visited Langley. While awaiting my appointment, an avuncular guard told me the building had more schizophrenic visitors than any other government structure. Why is this? Would you not think the FBI would be more important as a cause of the placement of transistors in the brain?

Posted by: Martial | January 5, 2011 10:14 PM | Report abuse

This piece of third-hand gossip doesn't even pass the laugh test. You could probably find more reliable and "intelligent" sources amongst the stray pieces of paper on the floor of a public lavatory....The Post should redo the subhead of this column as "Intelligence for Gullible Writers...."

Posted by: tdiaz | January 5, 2011 10:30 PM | Report abuse

So we recruited Osama to run the muji against the Ruskies and sponsored moderate groups too.

From all available sources it appears we are on all available sides. That gets us killed as well as them, and is an immoral position.

Posted by: googlesmoogle | January 6, 2011 12:55 AM | Report abuse

as so many of wapo planted disinformation stories probably BS

Posted by: pofinpa | January 6, 2011 4:46 AM | Report abuse

"A U.Sintelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity also said "Gundese's accounts are ringing no bells whatsoever."

----------

Never mind. Keep on listening, and keep hard. If the damned bells remain silent
I suggest you get some hearing aid or device. It works, believe me.

BTW, why taking the burden of speaking on condition of anonymity that Gundes is a lunatic. While you were making this declaration, maybe you missed the said bells, which is a pity.

Posted by: clause-michelle | January 6, 2011 6:26 AM | Report abuse

The CIA is an evil institution filled full of evil people that use their secret police powers to engage in political persecution of innocent people as well as organized thefts of private property, intellectual property et cetera. The US secret police "community" is just a bunch of cooks, criminanls, and evil-doers.

Posted by: max21c | January 6, 2011 6:50 AM | Report abuse

I see Jeff Stein is still in denial about the Islamic movement.

"Religious tolerance?"

You must move in the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your existence until you reach all the power centers … until the conditions are ripe, they [the followers] must continue like this. If they do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads, and Muslims will suffer everywhere, like in the tragedies in Algeria, like in 1982 [in] Syria … like in the yearly disasters and tragedies in Egypt. The time is not yet right. You must wait for the time when you are complete and conditions are ripe, until we can shoulder the entire world and carry it … You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey … Until that time, any step taken would be too early—like breaking an egg without waiting the full forty days for it to hatch. It would be like killing the chick inside. The work to be done is [in] confronting the world. Now, I have expressed my feelings and thoughts to you all—in confidence … trusting your loyalty and secrecy. I know that when you leave here—[just] as you discard your empty juice boxes, you must discard the thoughts and the feelings that I expressed here.
—Fethullah Gulen

Let me know when he condemns Sharia Law.

Jeff when are you going to show up on my site, and debate me on Islam? Sorry I forgot, you don't have the guts to do that.

Author Jeff Stein: Tool of Islam

http://loganswarning.com/2010/05/22/author-jeff-stein-tool-of-islam/

Posted by: Christopher3 | January 6, 2011 10:07 AM | Report abuse

the conspracy theories are always famous for Gulen Movement. Osman Nuri Gundes is the former Intelligence Chief for Istanbul district and there are many allegations about him for having secret relations with underground organizations which are described as illegal by the government. in order to understand turkish politics Washingtonpost should have asked this issue to experts. when Gundes express his ideas nobody paid attention to what he said in Turkey because people do not believe in such conspiracy theories anymore.

Posted by: mehmetkalkan64 | January 6, 2011 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Stein is to be commended for finally raising this issue in the mainstream US media. It is correct that the Turkish media portrayed Gundes' book as a shock:
http://www.radyoakdeniz.com/haber_detay.asp?haberID=4266

However, allegations of a Gulen-CIA are hardly anything new. It is surprising that Stein makes no mention of other prominent Turks who brought up this issue years ago, for example, the late Ankara University professor Necip Hablemitoglu
http://turkishinvitations.weebly.com/msnbc-turkish-affiliate-news-article-ankara-university-professor-claimed-cia-gulen-connection.html
and journalist/authors Hikmet Cetinkaya (of the Turkish national newspaper Cumhuriyet) and Merdan Yanardag. A translation of an excerpt from Yanardag's book can be read here
http://gulencharterschools.weebly.com/harmony-science-academy-denials-and-evidence.html

Many people in Turkey and other countries such as Russia have believed for years in a CIA-Gulen connection. The interesting question here is why the American media was never willing to investigate, especially given Gulen's already significant and rapidly growing influence on US society through his nonprofit "dialog" and political lobbying organizations, and even more importantly, through his network of over 130 charter schools in 25 US states.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2010-08-17-turkishfinal17_CV_N.htm
http://azstarnet.com/news/blogs/senor-reporter/article_78c5b71e-0e01-11e0-9e51-001cc4c03286.html

We oppose the involvement of the Gulen Movement in the US charter school system. We feel that our schoolchildren should not be mixed up in geopolitical games. Our public education system should not be a forum for special interest groups such as the Gulen Movement to advance their agenda and raise funds.

The Gulen Movement has gone to great lengths to portray itself here in the US as a benign force for good. In fact, it is nothing but a machine that works relentlessly to acquire money and power. In every part of the world, it tells the people and leaders what they want to hear. This gives the movement access to markets, including the educational market. Consider prominent Gulenist Muhammed Cetin, former president of the Texas-based Institute of Interfaith Dialog, a Gulenist non-profit that supposedly works for "peace," "social justice" and "positive social change." Yet he served as advisor to the repressive dictator Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan, and translated Niyazov's book "Ruhnama." This book was the instrument for the destruction of public education in Turkmenistan. The Gulen Movement was not troubled at all by this, as long as it facilitated their ability to run their own private schools in Turkmenistan. Is this a group that should be running our public schools?

Posted by: CASILIPS | January 6, 2011 7:38 PM | Report abuse

first lets get the facts straight by saying Gundes retired in 1987 that means he could not supervise any investigation into gulen's movement in 1990s..

seconds, this report's Turkish translation immediately was published on this movement's Turkish version..of course not word for word..guess why..

third..there is a very good smear campaign against one who criticise the İMAM and its movement..if you dare ,you may find your sex tape on internet or your fake pics with terrorist or you might be accused of being a member of the terrorist orgazination based on letter sent by someone whose identity protected by law...they are getting very stronger in the Turkish İnstitutions..soon we Turks will be very good muslim understanding shaped by this movement and its cia friends...

any average Americans fail their trap by thinking of them as a moderate muslim, just take a close look their lifestyle...yes they dont carry guns or blow up themselves but at the core they dont have much differences from taliban..

Posted by: demirry | January 6, 2011 8:50 PM | Report abuse

These is kind od weird. How can this happen, and the CIA does not do a good job keeping their friends from spilling info.

Please support My new Blog called Freedom Apparatus. I am a Journalism and Mass Communication Major and a Political Science and Government minor, and I also believe that we do not have enough Fiscal Conservastive Journalism in the press (believe me, it is true) and I think we need more. I am still in my first year, but figured that I should get a start now. Thank you, and God Bless you all.
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Posted by: tdub77 | January 9, 2011 2:52 AM | Report abuse

These is kind od weird. How can this happen, and the CIA does not do a good job keeping their friends from spilling info.

Please support My new Blog called Freedom Apparatus. I am a Journalism and Mass Communication Major and a Political Science and Government minor, and I also believe that we do not have enough Fiscal Conservastive Journalism in the press (believe me, it is true) and I think we need more. I am still in my first year, but figured that I should get a start now. Thank you, and God Bless you all.
Freedom Apparatus---
http://tbladel.wordpress.com/

Posted by: tdub77 | January 9, 2011 2:53 AM | Report abuse

These is kind od weird. How can this happen, and the CIA does not do a good job keeping their friends from spilling info.

Please support My new Blog called Freedom Apparatus. I am a Journalism and Mass Communication Major and a Political Science and Government minor, and I also believe that we do not have enough Fiscal Conservastive Journalism in the press (believe me, it is true) and I think we need more. I am still in my first year, but figured that I should get a start now. Thank you, and God Bless you all.
Freedom Apparatus---
http://tbladel.wordpress.com/

Posted by: tdub77 | January 9, 2011 2:54 AM | Report abuse

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BOYCOTT AMERICAN WOMEN!

Posted by: boycottamericanwomen | January 9, 2011 8:59 PM | Report abuse

The CIA does not know to what extent their efforts are propagated throughout the world. Especially when it comes to potential recruits and surgical transformation of human subjects for gathering purposes. Just like Daniel peqarls head was worth plenty to Raytheon, containing the technology that the CIA's website deems "so advanced, it's classfied.

Posted by: mindcontrol | January 9, 2011 11:01 PM | Report abuse

They do not know what they are doing with farming out classified tech to the private sector. Those people in those schools are potential recruits and will be surgically transformed when the time of selection comes. Just like Daniel Pearl's head was worth plenty to Raytheon, containing the technolgy so advanced it's classified (CIA website).

Posted by: mindcontrol | January 9, 2011 11:05 PM | Report abuse

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