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. Ozkok is a founding board member of the Turkish Cultural Center and part of a network of businesses and non-profits affiliated with the Gulen movement, also known as Hizmet.
Ozkok served as national finance co-chair of the pro-Clinton Ready PAC. He gave $10,000 to the committee in 2014 and $2,700 to Clinton’s campaign last year. He is also listed on the Turkish Cultural Center’s website as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, one of the non-profit arms of the Clinton Foundation. He’s given between $25,000 and $50,000 to the Clinton charity.
Through various non-profit groups, both Gulenists promote the cleric’s teachings, which are relatively moderate and pro-Western. They are also involved in the Gulen movement’s money-making endeavor: a vast network of taxpayer-funded charter schools. Those schools, which number more than 150, have been a source of controversy for the Gulen movement.
Erdoğan’s campaign to rid Turkey of Gulen’s influence has also thrust the recluse onto the public spotlight. On top of his efforts to crackdown on Gulenists within the Turkish media, judiciary and police, Erdoğan has sought to exert influence over Gulen in the U.S.
The connections between the Gulen movement and Clinton are not the first to be revealed. They also add to questions about what it is the Gulenists want from Clinton and whether the Democrat has rewarded their financial support with favors.
Last year The Daily Caller reported that numerous Gulen followers have donated to Clinton’s various political campaigns and to her family charity. One Gulen movement leader, Recep Ozkan, donated between $500,000 and $1 million to the Clinton Foundation.
As senator from New York, Clinton gave a keynote address at the Turkish Cultural Center’s annual banquet.
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