|Charter mogul, reputed coup leader Gulen|
According to wire service reports on The Daily Beast, among many other sources, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said in a television interview yesterday that members of the movement loyal to U.S.-based cleric Fethulah Gulen were involved in an attempted military coup unfolding in the country.
So who is this Gulen cat, anyway?
Trained as an imam, or prayer leader, Fethullah Gulen gained notice in Turkey some 50 years ago, promoting a philosophy that blended a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue.
Supporters started 1,000 schools in more than 100 countries, including 146 taxpayer-funded charter schools throughout the U.S. including one, the Michigan Mathematics and Science Academy, in Macomb County's Center Line.
In Turkey, Gulenists have run universities, hospitals, charities, a bank and a large media empire with newspapers and radio and TV stations.
Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan has long accused Gulen of plotting to overthrow the officially secular government from a gated 26-acre compound in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains (shown at left).
Gulen is rarely seen in public and has been put on trial in absentia at least three times. Gulen sponsors one of the biggest charter chains in the U.S. and is one of the biggest recipients of HB-1visas for Turkish teachers to staff his charter schools.
What lies underneath this charter-school network, however, is a possible undercurrent of white-collar crime and corruption. Known in Turkey as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization or FETÖ, this growing network is being investigated by the FBI for everything from fraud and malpractice, to misuse of public funds. FBI agents carried out raids at 19 Gülen-affiliated charter schools in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio in 2014.
Receiving approximately $150 million a year in tax breaks and subsidies, government officials are increasingly concerned that taxpayer dollars are being used to fund a close-knit network of Turkish teachers and businesses using charter schools as a Trojan horse for embedding into the U.S. education system.
The Director/Principal of Michigan's Gulen school, Oguzhan Yildiz, shown at left in a 2011 excerpt from another Gulen school, the Horizon Science Academy of Cleveland, receives a total compensation package exceeding $122,000.
And although management company Concept Schools - Ohio, Inc. currently manages 19 schools in that state, Concept's business status is officially "cancelled" as of March 31, 2015 for failing to file required corporation documents. In addition, Concept Schools is not incorporated in Michigan, although it runs the Center Line school.
One former teacher at a Cleveland Concept school has said he was forced to pay tributes under the table to the movement and was even required to visit Gulen at his residence in the Poconos in northeast Pennsylvania.
Mustafa Emanet told of being required to pay back some of his salary in cash to school administrators during his stay between 2006-09. Emanet was hired on an H-1B visa as an IT network administrator.
But after he arrived, he said he was presented with a "secret" contract that required a tribute to the Gulen movement. He said his initial H-1B visa called for him to be paid about $44,000 annually.
When he arrived, he was told he would be making less than $30,000 a year.
Later as his pay rose, he said he was required to give up to 40 percent of his salary back to school administrators in cash as a "himmet," or a tribute to Gulen and the overall movement.
"It got to the point where I was paying $900 to $1,000 a month," said Emanet, who eventually got his green card and is now a software developer in the Cleveland area.
We don't have to worry about terrorist attacks, we're already rotting from the inside.