A newly-released email and lobbying documents filed with Congress reveals new ties between Clintonworld and members of a network operated by a mysterious Islamic cleric from Turkey.
Connections between Clinton and acolytes of the imam, Fethullah Gulen, could muddle the complex relationship between the U.S. and Turkey, a key NATO ally, if the former secretary of state wins the White House.
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has mounted an aggressive crackdown against Gulen and his followers, known as Gulenists. Erdoğan, who was once allied with Gulen, has even personally asked President Obama to extradite the 74-year-old guru, who has lived in self-exile in Pennsylvania’s Pocono mountains since 1999.
Erdoğan has accused Gulen of attempting to undermine the Turkish government. Gulen’s followers control many Turkish institutions, including the media, courts, and police force.
In addition to muddying that complex geopolitical dynamic, a 2009 email recently released by Judicial Watch provides yet another example of access being provided to a Clinton campaign and Clinton Foundation donor.
In the April 1, 2009 message, a Gulen follower named Gokhan Ozkok asked Clinton deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin for help in connecting one of his allies to President Obama.
Another link between Gulenists and the Clinton orbit was revealed in a lobbying registration disclosure filed last month with the Senate. It shows that a Gulen-aligned group called the Alliance for Shared Values hired the Clinton-connected Podesta Group to lobby Congress on its behalf. The group seeks to lobby for the “promotion of peace, tolerance and interfaith dialogue.”
The group’s executive director is Alp Aslandogan, a former professor at universities in Texas. He has also donated to Clinton’s political endeavors, campaign finance records show.
The Podesta Group is a natural choice for those seeking influence with Clinton. The firm was co-founded by John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, and his brother Tony, a major Clinton campaign bundler.
Those schools, which number more than 150, have been a source of controversy for the Gulen movement.
Federal investigators have reportedly investigated some of the schools for using work visas to bring Turkish citizens to the U.S. to teach. In some cases, taxpayer funds were used to pay immigration and legal fees for family members of teachers who worked at the facilities. Funds allocated to the schools have also been funneled to contractors controlled by Turkish nationals with connections to the Gulen movement.
A 2011 New York Times article focused on suspicious ties between Gulenist schools operating in Texas under the name Harmony Public Schools. Harmony contracted with a company controlled by a pro-Gulen non-profit called the Cosmos Foundation. In 2002, Aslandogan purchased property that was later sold to Harmony. He also founded the Texas Gulf Foundation, which has also been awarded taxpayer-funded contracts to provide services to Gulen schools.
The partnerships between the schools and contractors allow taxpayer funds to remain within the Gulen network. Teachers at the schools, many of whom are not fluent in English, are also used to help finance Hizmet, according to one former teacher at a Gulen institute.
The teacher, who is now a government whistleblower, told “60 Minutes” in 2012 that Turkish teachers are required to return a large portion of their salary to the Gulen network. She said that her Turkish husband, who taught at one of the schools, was required to return 40 percent of his salary.
The Podesta Group also lobbied Clinton’s State Department on behalf of BAE Systems just as the U.K. defense contractor was facing stiff government sanctions for illegal arms trading. The Associated Press has sued the State Department for records pertaining to discussions to let BAE Systems off with a slap on the wrist for its infractions.
Clinton’s favorite lobbying firm also started working last year for Islami Bank Bangladesh, a Bengali bank that has been linked to terrorist groups. And earlier this year, Tony Podesta, the Clinton bundler and Podesta Group principal, was hired by the Saudi government.
Full article: New Ties Emerge Between Clinton And Mysterious Islamic Cleric (The Daily Caller)