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RE: TURKEY/ISRAEL - Gulen criticizes flotilla in WSJ interview

Released on 2012-03-12 16:00 GMT

Email-ID 1146565
Date 2010-06-04 22:44:23
Our friend responds as follows:

I believe he is seeking to do several things:

1. He wants to distance himself from the ihh, another aid organization
with Islamic roots.
2. He wants to protect his community from any possible attack because of
its aid/educational work.
3. He is saying he would have done things differently.
4. He may be heeding the U.S. sensitivities regarding Israel.

From: []
On Behalf Of George Friedman
Sent: June-04-10 3:10 PM
To: Reva Bhalla; Analysts
Subject: Re: TURKEY/ISRAEL - Gulen criticizes flotilla in WSJ interview

It just split a bit more open wouldn't you say.

Write a factual cat 2 and let's pull together what we can. Kamran has the
main channel for understanding this.

This was not something I was led to see as an issue.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


From: Reva Bhalla

Date: Fri, 4 Jun 2010 14:06:26 -0500

To: ; Analyst List

Subject: Re: TURKEY/ISRAEL - Gulen criticizes flotilla in WSJ interview

by whom? Ibrahim?

Zaman is the main Gulenist institution

there have always been tensions between the AKP and Gulen. That split is
already open

On Jun 4, 2010, at 2:05 PM, George Friedman wrote:

Let's keep the cat 2 factual and not draw conclusions yet. Let's see what
kamran gets. We need to gage how this will impact the turkish government.

I know that I was steered away from zaman to sabah by him. I think there
may be a split opening.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


From: Reva Bhalla

Date: Fri, 4 Jun 2010 14:02:21 -0500 (CDT)

To: Analyst List

Subject: Re: TURKEY/ISRAEL - Gulen criticizes flotilla in WSJ interview

im on it

On Jun 4, 2010, at 2:01 PM, Kamran Bokhari wrote:

Sounds like a way for AKP to move to a safe distance as well. Let us a do
a CAT 2 on this.

[] On Behalf Of Reva Bhalla
Sent: June-04-10 2:57 PM
To: Analyst List
Subject: Re: TURKEY/ISRAEL - Gulen criticizes flotilla in WSJ interview

NOte that he's very noticeably distancing his movment from the IHH

On Jun 4, 2010, at 1:51 PM, Kamran Bokhari wrote:

This should be repped.

From: [] On
Behalf Of Bayless Parsley
Sent: June-04-10 2:50 PM
To: Analyst List
Subject: TURKEY/ISRAEL - Gulen criticizes flotilla in WSJ interview

Reclusive Turkish Imam Criticizes Gaza Flotilla



SAYLORSBURG, Pa.-Imam Fethullah Gu:len, a controversial and reclusive U.S.
resident who is considered Turkey's most influential religious leader,
criticized a Turkish-led flotilla for trying to deliver aid without
Israel's consent.

Speaking in his first interview with a U.S. news organization, Mr. Gu:len
spoke of watching news coverage of Monday's deadly confrontation between
Israeli commandos and Turkish aid group members as its flotilla approached
Israel's sea blockade of Gaza. "What I saw was not pretty," he said. "It
was ugly."

Mr. Gu:len said organizers' failure to seek accord with Israel before
attempting to deliver aid "is a sign of defying authority, and will not
lead to fruitful matters."

Mr. Gu:len's views and influence within Turkey are under growing scrutiny
now, as factions within the country battle to remold a democracy that is a
key U.S. ally in the Middle East. The struggle, as many observers
characterize it, pits the country's old-guard secularist and military
establishment against Islamist-leaning government workers and ruling
politicians who say they seek a more democratic and religiously tolerant
Turkey. Mr. Gu:len inspires a swath of the latter camp, though the extent
of his reach remains hotly disputed.

His words of restraint come as many in Turkey gave flotilla members a
hero's welcome after two days of detention in Israel. Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan of the ruling Justice and Development Party condemned
Israel's moves as "bullying" and a "historic mistake."

Mr. Gu:len said he had only recently heard of IHH, the Istanbul-based
Islamic charity active in more than 100 countries that was a lead flotilla
organizer. "It is not easy to say if they are politicized or not," he
said. He said that when a charity organization linked with his movement
wanted to help Gazans, he insisted they get Israel's permission. He added
that assigning blame in the matter is best left to the United Nations.

Mr. Gu:len has long cut a baffling figure, as critics and adherents have
sparred over the nature of his influence in Turkey and the extent of his
reach. Leading a visitor on Wednesday past his front corridor-adorned with
a map of Turkey, a verse from the Quran and a photograph of a Turkish F-16
jet over the Bosphorus-he portrayed himself an apolitical teacher. "I do
not consider myself someone who has followers," he said.

* Opinion: Turkey's Radical Drift
* New Aid Ship Heads to Gaza
* Israel Explores Easing Its Blockade of Gaza
* Turkish Group Sees Victory in Martyrdom
* Israel's Isolation Deepens
* In Israel and Abroad, Raid Spurs Criticism of Military's Judgment
* Aboard Marmara, Skirmish Turns Deadly
* Complete Coverage:

Born in eastern Turkey in 1941, Mr. Gu:len became a state-licensed imam at
17, after three years of formal education and studies with Sufi masters.
In a Turkey largely under the sway of a military-secularist establishment,
he built a national organization of Islamic study and boarding halls,
gaining support of many wealthy Muslims but at times running afoul of the

While in the U.S. in 1999 for medical treatment, he was charged in Turkey
with attempting to create an Islamic state- anathema under Turkey's
secularist constitution. He stayed in Pennsylvania, where he now lives on
a 25-acre estate in the Pocono Mountains. Over the years, he said, he has
left the estate twice.

Mr. Gu:len preaches nonviolence, dialogue between Western and Muslim
worlds, and an educational tradition that combines study of science and
Islam. His newspaper columns, weekly Internet sermons and other messages
have been collected into more than 60 books. His adherents number, by
various estimates, three million to eight million.

Followers have established hundreds of schools in more than 100 countries
and run an insurance company and an Islamic bank, Asya, that its 2008
annual report said had $5.2 billion in assets. They own Turkey's largest
daily newspaper, Zaman; the magazine Aktion; a wire service; publishing
companies; a radio station and the television network STV, according to
Helen Rose Ebaugh, a University of Houston sociologist and author of "The
Gu:len Movement." She says followers donate up to one-third of their
income to independent Gu:len-linked foundations.

Ms. Ebaugh said Mr. Gu:len doesn't sit on the boards of Asha bank nor any
foundation or editorial boards of Gu:len-sympathetic magazines, newspapers
or television stations. In the interview, the imam said he had no
financial interest in any holdings.

Mr. Gu:len's detractors see him as a cult-like leader whose empire aims to
train an Islamic elite who will one day rebuild the Turkish state. Soner
Cagaptay, a Gu:len critic who is a Turkey analyst at the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy, says the Turkish police force may be
largely influenced by the imam through Gu:len sympathizers in key
positions-effectively creating a counterbalance to Turkey's powerful
military, a secularist bastion.

"I am not a leader of a faction or someone who would cause some state
officials to follow me despite their official duties," Mr. Gu:len said in
the interview.

The U.S. has "immense ambivalence" about Mr. Gu:len, said Graham Fuller,
an ex-Central Intelligence Agency officer who is a resident consultant at
the Rand Corp. in British Columbia.

"On the one hand they do perceive him as very moderate and doing many
positive things," Mr. Fuller said. But Washington has long thrown its lot
behind the secularist followers of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, he says, viewing
them "as the only narrative to what Turkish politics is all about."

The U.S. State Department declined to comment about Mr. Gu:len for this

In 2007, U.S. Homeland Security moved to deny Mr. Gu:len
permanent-resident status in the U.S., rejecting his claim of exceptional
ability as an educator. "The record contains overwhelming evidence that
plaintiff is primarily the leader of a large and influential religious and
political movement with immense commercial holdings," the government

Mr. Gu:len won on appeal after getting 29 letters of support, including
one from Mr. Fuller.

The imam disputed Homeland Security's characterization. He goes only so
far as to provide guidance to those who ask, he said.

The 2002 election of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, opened a
new era for Mr. Gu:len and those he inspires, given their common foe in
the military-secularist establishment.

The AKP says it has no political ties to Mr. Gu:len. The imam says critics
have linked him, falsely, to Turkey's current and previous leaders. "I do
not have and have never had any relationship with a movement that has
political aspirations," he said. "I am just a Turkish citizen."

Last month, Mr. Gu:len's followers founded the Assembly of Turkic American
Federations in Washington, a lobbying and umbrella organization for some
180 local non-profit foundations around the U.S. involved in education and

An English-language Turkish newspaper reported that Mr. Gu:len has told
his followers they couldn't visit him on his Poconos estate if they didn't
first donate to their local congressman. Mr. Gulen denies making the

Mr. Gu:len said that for Muslims, benefiting their community is both an
Islamic and humanitarian duty, and that he would be happy if those who
respect him support their lawmakers in the name of democracy and

"I hear that some people in the United States consider Turkey as sitting
at the epicenter of radicalism," Mr. Gu:len said. The new federation's
lobbying would aim "to reflect through sincere, pro-dialog and open-minded
people the true nature of Turkey's realities."

Write to Joe Lauria at