FBI probing network of Gulen-linked schools: report

State Dept. official tells CBS schools bear resemblance to 'organized crime' doing 'money laundering'

FBI probing network of Gulen-linked schools: report

World Bulletin / News Desk

 The FBI is looking into a network of charter schools spanning 28 U.S. states linked to Fetullah Gulen, according to a report published Wednesday.

For the past two decades, Gulen's followers have been opening up the network of U.S. taxpayer-funded schools that the FBI is now investigating, American news network CBS reported.

Gulen is accused by Turkey of leading a shadowy cabal known as the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), and of masterminding last year's failed July 15 putsch. He currently lives in self-imposed exile in the village of Saylorsburg in Monroe County, Pennsylvania.

The FBI is seeking to determine whether Gulenists have been secretly taking money from the science and math-focused schools to fund FETO in Turkey.

The schools, which comprise a total of 136 institutions according to a CBS count -- some estimates put the number higher -- have used more than $2.1 billion in taxpayer money since 2010, the news outlet said.

Speaking to CBS, a senior State Department official said the schools look “a lot like the ways in which organized crime sets itself up... to hide money for money laundering”.

 Meanwhile, former Turkish teachers at Gulen's charter schools accused his followers of a scheme to fund FETO involving forced payments from their salaries.

"They’d force you to give some of that money back to them?” asked CBS News journalist Margaret Brennan.

“Yes,” Ersin Konkur, who CBS identified as a former follower of Gulen, responded.

In all, Konkur said he gave FETO more than $20,000, mostly in cash.

An informations-technology administrator, Mustafa Emanet, told the news network that he was forced to hand over about 40 percent of his salary.

FBI investigators now believe that former officials at Emanet's Ohio school illegally paid themselves roughly $5 million in federal contracts that was then funneled to Gulen-linked Bank Asya.

The schools that Emanet and Konkur worked for deny links to Gulen, but CBS News said it found that "nearly all Gulen schools have ties to a network of non-profits, many of which lead back to Gulen or his top associates".

And court records related to Gulen's immigration to the U.S. said he has "overseen the establishment of a conglomeration of schools", including in the U.S, according to CBS.

Gulen declined to be interviewed for the CBS story, but his "closest adviser", Alp Aslandogan, denied the allegations of forced payments. Aslandogan is the Executive Director of Gulen-linked Alliance for Shared Values.

The Turkish government has been seeking Gulen’s extradition following the July 15, 2016 coup attempt that resulted in 249 deaths and thousands of injuries.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Mart 2017, 09:08