Operations in the U.S. by the Fetullah Terror Organization (FETO) and its leader, are proof of its secretive and illegal structure, Amsterdam & Partners LLP, the law firm investigating the group’s activities, said Friday.
“If one takes a closer look at how he [Fetullah Gulen] runs his 150 charter schools through dozens of secretive fronts, it is clear that there is a highly-sophisticated organizational capacity hidden beneath the surface,” the U.S.-based firm’s co-founder Robert Amsterdam said in an article he wrote for Forbes business magazine.
Seven months ago Amsterdam was appointed by the Turkish government to oversee the probe into the suspected illegal activities of Gulen, who has lived at a sprawling complex in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, since 1999.
Amsterdam found FETO’s “rigid hierarchy” is like a pyramid with Gulen at the top.
Directly under him is a seven-member governing group that receives instructions from Gulen in face-to-face meetings. Orders are then passed to a consultative committee, according to Amsterdam.
The committee then sends orders to regional chiefs — or imams — operating through the levels of country, region, province, city, district, neighborhood, chiefs of student houses and then students, Amsterdam said.
Military officers, bureaucrats and businessmen operate at different levels of the structure, according to their positions, he said.
Amsterdam said the organization has 55,000 businesses worldwide and the largest network of charter schools in the U.S. where FETO receives tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars each year from its businesses and schools, which it then redirects within the organization and to “selected” contractors.
He painted a picture of a tight revolving door amongst school administrators, businesses and contractors within the FETO organization.
His law firm discovered that the administration at Magnolia charter schools in California awarded a $700,000 annual contract to a Gulen-linked contractor who shared an office with Magnolia schools.
The contractor, who was not named and is also the school’s founder and then-CEO, soon left the institution “to resume leadership of the contractor he founded, benefiting extensively from his earlier decision to sign that contract,” the article said.
It added that the audits conducted by one of Magnolia’s sponsors, the Los Angeles Unified Schools District, raised questions about whether its contractor was providing any real services to Magnolia.
Those kind of self-dealing arrangements that benefit high-level Gulen followers were documented in every Gulen charter network that the law firm has so far investigated, Amsterdam said.
Similar examples to the Magnolia schools were highlighted involving Gulen schools in Oklahoma and Texas.
The Gulen charter networks deny affiliation with its leader although they are run by known Gulenists and their businesses.
Amsterdam also said those institutions take funds that should go to public education and use them to enrich each other and finance the group’s activities.
Some media reports claim the school network receives as much as $500 million annually in educational support from the U.S. government. Those funds are not used for educational purposes, however, but are redirected into the coffers of Gulen’s businesses to support other activities.
Amsterdam said that the examples that the firm has found since his investigation began, showed that FETO has misappropriated almost $28 million in taxpayers’ money.
“Yet that is barely scratching the surface of what we’ve already found so far,” he said.
According to Turkey, Gulen is the mastermind behind a failed coup attempt last month that killed 240 victims and injured nearly 2,200 others.
Turkey has since requested Gulen’s extradition from the U.S. for a number of crimes, including “attempting to assassinate the president” and “attempting to demolish the Turkish parliament with the aim of preventing it from functioning “, according to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Ankara.
The U.S., however, said it is still reviewing the request’s formality.
Gulen is also accused of leading a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary, forming what is commonly known as the parallel state.
Source: Anadolu Agency