Turkey Returns to Jihad: Gülen & the Gülen Movement

Turkey Returns to Jihad: Gülen & the Gülen Movement
(Clare M. Lopez, May 4, 2016)

Transcript available below

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About the speaker

Clare M. Lopez, Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy, is the co-author of the recently published book Gülen and the Gülenist Movement: Turkey’s Islamic Supremacist Cult and its Contributions to the Civilization Jihad. Fethullah Gülen is the head of a vast political network in Turkey that promotes theocracy and has infiltrated the Turkish state. Gülen lives in the U.S. where he has established a significant number of charter schools. Her remarks will include commentary on Gülen’s erstwhile ally, now opponent, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the new Islamic Center in Lanham, MD.

Lopez is a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and a member of the Board of Advisors for the Canadian Mackenzie Institute. In 2016, she was named to Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign national security advisory team. Since 2013, she has served as a member of the Citizens Commission on Benghazi. Formerly Vice President of the Intelligence Summit, she was a career operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, a professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee from 2005-2006, and has served as a consultant, intelligence analyst, and researcher for a variety of defense firms. She was named a 2011 Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute.

Already an advisor to EMP Act America, in February 2012 Ms. Lopez was named a member of the Congressional Task Force on National and Homeland Security, which focuses on the Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) threat to the nation. She serves as a member of the Boards of Advisors/Directors for the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, The United West, and the Voice of the Copts. She has been a Visiting Researcher and guest lecturer on counterterrorism, national defense, and international relations at Georgetown University.

Ms. Lopez is a regular contributor to print and broadcast media on subjects related to Iran and the Middle East and the co-author of two published books on Iran. She is the author of an acclaimed paper for the Center, The Rise of the Iran Lobby and co-author/editor of the Center’s Team B II study, “Shariah: The Threat to America” as well as The Tiger Team’s “The Secure Freedom Strategy: A Plan for Victory Over the Global Jihad Movement.” She co-authored “Gulen and the Gulenist Movement” with CSP’s Vice President for Outreach, Christopher Holton, and “See No Shariah: ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ and the Disarming of America’s First Line of Defense” with Frank Gaffney, CSP President.


Robert Reilly:

Well, we are absolutely delighted to have Clare Lopez with us tonight as the speaker. Clare has often been on the other side of this podium, so it is especially apt that she be on this side to give us this talk this evening. I know many of you know Clare, her distinguished background, and her present occupation, which is as Vice President of Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy.

Most particularly, she is the author of the monograph recently published on “Gulen and the Gulenist Movement: Turkey’s Islamic Supremacist Cult and its Contributions to the Civilizational Jihad.” This book is available outside. I am sure Clare will be happy to sign them after her talk as well as a number of other publications from the Center for Security Policy and other of your works are available.

So, I am going to be very brief here in introducing Clare to leave her ample time while staff upstairs settles down. In addition to her work at the Center for Security Policy, Clare is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and a member of the board of advisors for the Canadian McKinsey Institute. I was going to mention that she was named as a presidential campaign as a national security advisor to a certain candidate who as of last night is no longer available so I will not.

In any case, anyone could benefit from her good advice and counsel on national security. In fact, since 2013, Clare has served as a member of the Citizens Commission on Benghazi. Formerly Vice President of the Intelligence Summit, she was a career operations officer with the CIA, a professor at the Center for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee from 2005 to 2006.

Particularly dear to my heart because of my own close association with the Claremont Institute, Clare was a Lincoln Fellow there in 2011. Many accomplishments, they are listed there on the bio online. Please join me in welcoming here to talk about Gulen and the Gulenist movement. Thank you.

Clare Lopez:

Thank you so much for that wonderful introduction, Bob, and thanks for the invitation to be here on this side of the podium tonight. It is a pleasure to be with you all. Thanks so many of you for coming out this grey, drippy night. I did want to talk about what we wrote about in this booklet. It is a monograph size, coauthored with my college at the Center for Security Policy, Christopher Holton, who is our Vice President for State Legislative Outreach.

And we realized that there was not only a connection to what is going on to Turkey but also, by extension, what is now happening here in the United States with this movement. How many of you have heard of Fethullah Gulen? Very… well, at least half I would say, so great, great.

I will explain as we go along. Everything I am going to talk about in here tonight is unclassified. It is all from open sources. Please feel free to ask questions. I will be sure to leave time at the end for questions too. Bob said this book and a few of the others in our Civilization Jihad Reader series are on the table back there for sale and I will be glad to follow up with you even afterwards. I have cards on the table back there with my contact info, so please feel free to take one if you would like. Ask where I got something from.

That is just a little bit of a visual of the things in my background that Bob mentioned. I began right after grad school with no offer letter in my hands so I went off to marines corps officer candidate school in Quantico, Virginia and you can see me there a long, long time ago.

But while I was there, I received the letter that I was really waiting for and that was the one from the CIA. That was my offer letter that I really wanted. So I finished the course and went to the Captain the night before graduation and said well, if I had gone to graduation, the oath of service would have been part of the ceremony, so I had to leave the night before and tell them I had this better offer and they paid more money and I did not have to wear green for the rest of my life.

So after twenty years undercover CIA around the world, I then gravitated to the policy community in Washington, DC, and eventually where I am now very happily working with Frank Gaffney and the other wonderful folks at the Center for Security Policy.

We have been publishing over the last year-and-a-half now this small series of Civilization Jihad ‘readers’. We call them that because they are sort of small, and quick and easy to read mostly, fewer than one hundred pages. We published nine of these last year. I am the editor for all of them and the co-author for a couple of them. We are off to a roaring start again this year with more in the pipeline, so stay tuned for that and have a look at our website, centerforsecuritypolicy.org or you can go to securefreedom.org, same thing.

Fethullah Gülen and the Gülenists

Alright, so here is the introduction to the book. And as I said my colleague Christopher Holton and I co-authored this at the end of last year and the concern was not just for what we saw happening in Turkey, but also what we were seeing here in the United States.

So we began with a look at this cleric, this Sunni Islamic cleric by the name of Fethullah Gülen. He is a Turkish Sunni cleric. He is very much part of the jihadist Sufi Ottoman tradition, and he founded back in the twentieth century a social-political movement. He calls it Hizmet and hizmet in Turkish means service. That is what the organization is called. He is both founder and spiritual leader for that organization. It has become a global, worldwide organization in the decade since he founded it. And it is in every sense of the word an empire both in the financial sense, business sense, and otherwise, academic as well as clerical or spiritual.

He is the head of a vast network not just of businesses – I will talk about some of those which form the financial basis for this empire and fund it to a great extent – but also he is at the head of a global network of cultural groups, which have a widespread presence here in the United States, and schools. And the schools are the thing that get a lot of people’s attention here in the United States, and we will get into that.

The Gülen Ideology

Now the ideology for Fethullah Gülen is easy to find. He has got a website. On that website are posted many of his writings, fgulen.com, and in English. He openly and publicly tries to project an image of this benign spirituality, this gentle tolerance for all faiths and so on. However, when you actually get into reading some of his speeches and some of his writing, it is very quick and easy to discern a very pro-Sharia and pro-jihadist bent to his writing, and it is in complete sync with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Of course, the government of Turkey now is a Muslim Brotherhood government and he was not that far ideologically separated from the president, former Prime Minister but now President of Turkey, Erdoğan, until a split that we will talk about that occurred a few years ago.

But ideologically: jihad, Sharia, Muslim Brotherhood. There is no overt connection between the Gülen movement or Fethullah Gülen himself and the Muslim Brotherhood. So make that point clear. There is no particular connection that can be demonstrated. However, what I am saying is that the ideology is one and the same.

Kemalist Turkey is No More

So we know that back in the twentieth century Kemal Ataturk, who is pictured here next to the Turkish flag, was the leader of Turkey, and what was left really of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish state, the rump state almost if you will after World War I, which Turkey lost.

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