Religious Cult Leader Fethullah Gulen’s Second Failed Coup Attempt Against Democratically Elected Turkish Government


Fethullah Gulen

By Dr Aland Mizell:

Turkey is not a stranger to coups; the Turkish democracy has gone through many interruptions due to myriad coups. Turkey has faced one every ten years. In 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 1997, and 2007, Turkey encountered military interventions. In the past the secular military executed the coups against an Islamic threat in order to maintain the secular principles of Turkey‘s founder, Kemal Ataturk, but this time an Islamic cult executed a coup d’état in order to maintain their cultic ideology and to take control over Turkey. There is no doubt this coup was an attempt by Fethullah Gulen and his followers in the military.

For more than forty years Gulen has been working on infiltrating his followers into military schools. Gulen’s followers operated the Kulleli Asker Lisesi. When they graduate from the military school, they have direct access to Gulen, because these military students are special for him. Only Gulen’s close circle knows the number or the positions of these military placements. Those who are in the military and in the police force will go through special training by Gulen, learning how to infiltrate into the military and how not to reveal their identity. The problem is that Gulen has not only infiltrated Turkish armed forces schools, but other countries’ armed forces schools as well. For example, a Muslim chaplain in the American army and one in the Canadian military are Gulen’s followers. In the former Soviet country of Azerbaijan the military chief-of-staff is also a Gulenist, but if asked directly, they all will say that they are not followers of Gulen because they are trained to lie for their brand of Islam. The Muslim who is involved in the Islamic desk for the Obama administration, Dalia Mogahed, was John Esposito’s student from Georgetown University, and John Esposito is the biggest supporter of Gulen in the U.S. In addition, a significant number of Gulen’s followers are working as military attachés overseas.

According to a reliable source of information, Gulen initially planned to attempt the coup at 4 am in the morning of July 16th, but the source revealed the reason they started in the evening. The real plan was to kill Erdogan, because the biggest threat to Gulen was Erdogan. When the military bombed Erdogan’s hotel where they thought he was staying, Erdogan had already left the hotel. Gulen had recently issued a fatwa to his imams not to go outside on the street on July 14th and for them to be cautious, because if the coup were successful and they went out of the streets to show support, they would disclose that they had been behind the coup. Gulen is in a psychological crisis, and he could issue crazier fatwas to harm the President of Turkey and Turkish government officials.

Gulen has repeatedly claimed that Turkey will hit bottom. Gulen is in charge of every operation in his organization. Because he is considered as having absolute truth, his Kamikazes follow his orders without question. According to Gulen’s former follower who wrote his autobiography and knows every detail of his life and his organization, Latif Erdogan, Gulen is a cruel, merciless dictator who shows no tolerance and will do anything to accomplish his goals. Gulen and his followers know they cannot persuade the Turkish public to side with them, but their real goal is to persuade the international media and intellectuals that Gulen is an innocent, peace-loving imam who promotes peace, tolerance, and interfaith dialogue. Therefore, everything exhibited in the struggle between Gulen and Erdogan is Erdogan’s fault against Gulen and his followers.

Gulen has no chance of success in Turkey, but now his organization’s real mask has also been revealed internationally, exposing that they are not what their self-designed and marketed image is. Instead, they are known for the failed coup against a democratically elected government and for killing innocent people. As a result, the Turkish people deem them a terrorist group. Consequently, Erdogan’s administration should go after Gulen internationally; otherwise, Gulen will continue giving Turkey problems. The Turkish government should explain in detail and persuade the international community that Gulen’s organization is dangerous not just for Turkey but for the international community as well. Gulenists are working on Hillary Clinton and have contributed money to the Clinton campaign as well as to the Clinton foundation. America should expel Gulen from the United States, because his remaining on his twenty-eight acres fortress outside of Saylorsburg Pennsylvania is not in the national interest of the United States. If the Turkish government pushes hard, America will expel Gulen to another country because Gulen is no longer an asset for America. Gulen’s plan B was to take over the Turkish National Movement party (MHP), to put his people in charge, using the universities to start clashes between the Kurds, the Turks, Alevi and Sunnis, but the current MHP leader, Devlet Bahceli, took the side of democracy. The goal of Gulen is to control the world, not just Turkey; that is why he opened schools and businesses to lay the foundation for future work, although most of the followers infiltrated the air force school.

The question is: what if the coup had been successful? What would happen then?  If the coup had been successful, Gulen would have returned to Turkey like Iran’s late leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, with a military parade, proving that Gulen was right all along and that the AKP and Erdogan were wrong. Many people would believe his cult ideology. Erdogan’s entire family would have been executed or be in prison or in exile, all the cult followers would be free, and his opponents who criticized him would be incarcerated or hanged. The questions, then, are how did Fethullah Gulen and his Islamic religious cult become one of the most powerful Islamic groups in the world? Why did he attempt such a coup against the Islamic government? Why did the coup fail? Why have Fethullah Gulen and his followers vehemently denied the coup?  What makes this coup different than the other four major coups? Why should we not believe Gulen and his followers’ claims? What will happen now, especially regarding Turkish and American relations?

From the beginning of 2010 until the end of 2013, the Gulenists began forming a cabal in the legal system and attempting to overthrow the elected administration through a judiciary coup, but they were unsuccessful. From that day on, the government and the AKP members developed a serious concern about Gulen’s cult, known by the public as “a parallel state.” President Erdogan tried to cleanse the formation of the parallel state from within the state. He removed all the police officers from their posts, closed down the cult’s media, businesses, schools, universities, and bureaucracy, but most of the cult leaders escaped from Turkey to Europe, the United States, Africa, or Asia. The last untouched institution was the military. Before the coup attempt Erdogan publicly announced that he would kill the cancers cells, referring to Gulen’s cult, with all means.

Since the onset of the conflict between these two power-seeking individuals, I have believed that either Erdogan would finish Gulen’s religious cult or Gulen’s cult would finish Erdogan. I would have never believed, however, that there would be a coup attempt in Turkey after all the struggle for democracy. However, I believe Gulen will use all his Kamikaze police, military, judges, journalists, teachers, businessmen, women and children to harm the democratically elected government to prove that he is Allah’s righteous, chosen Mehdi. (Messiah) I will never forget what happened in Turkey on Friday night, July 15th, 2016, with the hustle around Beylerbeyi Palace, the residence of the Presidency; the soldiers’ presence on the streets, the closure of the bridges that link the European and Anatolian sides of Istanbul; and the command for the public to return to their homes. The army took over the major international airport, cancelled all the inbound and outbound flights, flew F-6 fighter jets low over Istanbul, bombed the Turkish Parliament building in Ankara, stormed TV stations, kidnapped the military chief-of-staff, drove military tanks over unarmed civilians, and shot from helicopters killing innocent people.  The army fired on civilians who were protesting against the military to remind everyone that the role of the military is to protect civilians, not to fire on them. At midnight mosques called special prayers with loudspeaker until morning, admonishing the people to go to the streets to take charge of their country. In the cities of Istanbul, Ankara, and Erzurum, Izmir, Manisa, Diyarbakir, and many others, Turkey did not sleep that night but took to the street to answer the traitors.

Whether the international community agrees with Erdogan or not, it knows that no one has the right to remove by force a democratically elected official or to impose their might on the people. I have been a critic of Erdogan in many articles, especially regarding his policy toward Kurds in Syria, but I condemn the coup attempt.  The Turkish people did their job and one more time listened to their leaders, so now is the time for their leaders and the elected politicians to do their job. Erdogan and the government must make these coup plotters pay the highest price as Ankara has promised; this failed coup will open a new era in Turkey and will put an end to coups in Turkish history. Now it is the responsibility of the government towards its citizens to identify and expel the FETO (Fethullah Terror Organization) from each cell in the state. Erdogan should also internationally pressure those who continue to allow Gulen’s schools to operate by cutting all diplomatic relations with those countries especially those in Africa, Central Asia, and Far East Asia. To date, Gulen has three schools operating in the Philippines as well as NGOs.

The question looms large, “Why now?” The answer is because it was good timing by Gulenists’ calculation; it was after a terror attack in Nice, France, so they thought people and the media would be focused on the Bastille Day carnage. They calculated that any suspicious military activity would be seen as some kind of precaution against terror attacks in Turkey, according to some of the military officials who joined the coup. The coup leaders told them that they were doing some kind of military exercise, not a coup.  The second reason is that Erdogan was not in Ankara but was on vacation. The third reason for the timing was that it was their last try just before the Supreme Military Council meeting scheduled on August 1st in which Erdogan was planning a major reshuffle in the army by discovering and disbanding Gulenist cells within it. Many people knew that Gulenist recruits had secretly climbed the steps of the military hierarchy over the past decades, because the Gulenists operated the Kuleli Askeri Lisesi school with some members even reaching the level of general. These people knew, however, that they had been unmasked and would be removed in the approaching Supreme Military Board meeting scheduled in August. Gulen’s cult followers led some mid-level officers essentially to commit suicide by executing the coup attempt.

Why did it fail? There is no doubt that Gulen played one of his last cards, thinking that the international community and the United States would support the coup and the military because of Egypt’s case. At the beginning of the Egyptian revolution, the EU and the United States criticized the Egyptian military but later laid out the red carpet out for Egyptian General Sisi. The second reason Gulen ‘s cult did not succeed is because their generals failed to gain public support, and the third reason shows the maturity level of democracy in Turkey.  There is no doubt the Turkish people give importance to a democratic administration, the country’s stability, as well as domestic peace. Turkey is no longer the old Turkey and cannot be compared to other Middle Eastern countries. Yes, there are still more things to be done about the Kurdish question, the Armenian question, religion freedom, human rights issues, among other concerns, but Turkey is no longer old Turkey. The world should understand Turkish institutions have settled and its political culture has matured. Furthermore, the media played an important role in preventing the coup attempt because of the power of the media. President Erdogan used Face Time to speak to his supporter, urging them to go on the streets and resist and also sending text messages to inform the people what is going and what to do. He urged them to resist at the cost of their life.  Opposition parties, the Nationalist Party MHP, the Republican Party’s CHP, and the pro-Kurd Peoples’ Democratic Party HDP announced their support for the elected government while the media courageously broadcast the scene.  A combination of prayer calls through the minarets of the mosques and social media through Face Time, twitter, and emails called for solidarity and resistance.

Now Gulen cannot get any first-hand intelligence information like he did before. In the past whatever the military or Turkish government was going to do, the first person to know was cult leader Gulen himself, and he deceived his followers by telling them that Allah was talking to him and giving him visions, and that is why that whatever he said would happen, did exactly as he foretold. Now the public realizes it was not a divine angel but his secret angels who had infiltrated in government that were giving him information. This time it did not happen. Gulen’s cult did not have any friends in Turkey because when they had power, they abused it; he became a dictator, not leaving room for any other organization to operate, in favor of his having total control.

As Gulen’s failed coup attempt became clear, they could not disguise their hatred toward the ideas of democracy, freedom, and modern society, but rather bombed the Turkish parliamentary building, murdered civilians, and declared war on the Turkish people. Gulen is no different than ISIS, Boko Haram, or any other group whose followers’ instructions are to put on suicide bombing vests, kill innocent people, create fear and chaos in society, bring about a power vacuum, and prevent the government from making decisions.

Now the coup has failed and Gulen is giving interviews, deceiving people by claiming that he was not involved in the coup attempt, because, in his view and that of his followers, he is absolute and, consequently, should always be successful; however, since this cruel event was highly unsuccessful, he is denying any association. Gulenists are used to following orders without any questions, no matter how foolish they seem. This is not simply a coup attempt. It was war on Turkey because many innocent people died and hundreds of others were injured. It was a suicide attack by taking lives of innocent people because Gulen attacked those who do not agree with him and do not follow him, calling them mute devils. In this coup attempt Gulen showed that he is using force to make people believe him and his cultic ideas. The Gulenists lost, and now the entire democratic world needs to join this fight against Gulenism whose followers believe that no matter who is hurt, their end—to control Turkey and the world– justifies all sorts of means–any action necessary to achieve this end.

The Gulen organization once again has proven to be one of the most dangerous religious cults inside and outside of Turkey. Now Turkey and President Erdogan have a wider group of allies to fight against the movement. As of the current account, Gulen has more than 290 innocent people’s blood on his hands and the hands of his followers. More than 1600 people are injured. The economic damage is immense. Thousands of soldiers and others responsible for the chaos have been taken into custody. Most importantly, Gulen and his followers proved that they no longer advocate peace, love, tolerance, interfaith dialogue, education for children, but instead support killing the innocent, thereby proving that they are one of the world’s most dangerous factions convincing followers to commit suicide for the cult ideology that they believe; they will not follow the rule of law, but only the rule of their cult leader Fethullah Gulen. The world witnessed that Fethullah Gulen promotes hate, violence, chaos, bombing, and assassination of a democratically elected president via military coup. The Turkish people are asking for the government to apply the death sentence to these who planned and executed the coup. There is also a call to close Incirlik Air Base down in case of its personnel’s affiliation with Gulen and his plot.

Gulen and his followers have a split personality or just perpetrate a two-faced fraud on members and on the rest of the globe. Not only should people not believe them, but also they should put them on trial for deception and fraud. Rather than listening to what Gulen and his followers say, the public should focus on what they do. Gulen and his followers are a living contradiction both in what they proclaim and what they practice. Gulen accuses Erdogan and the AKP of not being transparent, but careful observers across the world know that Gulen has two faces, one that faces the world and another that hides from it. Gulen is like one body with two personalities. He established schools, hospitals, media, television stations, universities, and business companies with donations from contributors, but his finances are very murky. Thus, they cannot be trusted because they play on both sides of the fence. Gulen’s messages dictate a double standard. Unfortunately, his deception, denial, slander, and violence works because the West has bought his message lock, stock, and barrel. People do not bother to see the truth and thus ignorantly buy into it completely. Gulen and his followers give interviews to all the Western media denying that Gulen supported the military coup but affirming that he was the victim of coups. Actually, that is a big lie. Gulen himself supported the military coup of February 28, 1997, and Gulen went on to praise the military for removing the Islamic Welfare Party from power.  Gulenists are dismissing that claim as a major distortion of the truth. Gulen himself argues, “You have to know the truth, but you don’t have to tell the truth anywhere or every time,” and adds that at times you should deny the truth. If Gulen had been in jail for supporting the generals and praising these generals in a former coup, Turkey would not have had another coup attempt by his followers. Gulen personally expressed that on the 28th February 1997, they had wanted the military to come out against the leader of the Islamic Welfare Party, and he praised the military for the coup that removed the democratically elected party from the power and banned most of it members from running for office again.

Gulen now is distorting the truth about the 1997 coup by claiming that he was himself the victim of the military coup. If he were a victim of military coup, then he would not have become the leader of such a powerful cult. The fate of those who are victims of a military coup is very clear. Because Gulen is opportunistic, he always likes to be on the side of the powerful, since he likes to be praised and to be seen as absolute truth. Therefore, the international community should not buy his story because Gulen did support the partial coup attempt in 1997; he also supported the Gezi Park protest to remove Erdogan in 2013, and now he used his final card to stage another bloody coup attempt against a democratically elected government. One the one hand, this coup failed and thus became a nail in his movement’s coffin.  On the other hand, Gulen is an arrogant individual, and he will not give up his fight with the current Turkish government under the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), telling his followers that if they give up the fight, they will go to hell. Since he thinks that he is the chosen one, he thinks they will win the fight because Allah has chosen his hizmet (community).  But his arrogance will finish him and his empire. He is reminiscent of an archangel who was one of the most intelligent angels, but was cast out from God’s light forever when God asked him to obey Him, but he did not listen. Gulen has already lost his credibility and power and now his hands are stained with innocent blood.

Gulenists are going beyond the words of Allah becoming the real cheaters, liars, and dictators in his undemocratic and inconsistent position. For a long time Gulen’s movement was almost universally considered as promoting social cohesion, advocating peace, tolerance, and interfaith dialogue, but in reality Gulen promotes hate, division, and enmity among the millions of Turkish people and devotees around the globe. Only those who closely study him and his organization know that Gulen lied and deceived people; that is how he came to power. Also those who study him know that he is not consistent in his message because what he said in the early 80s and 90s does not compare with his sermons now.

In my view, Gulen and his followers should be prosecuted for lying and cheating to followers in countries around the globe. They have lost the essence of Amr bil Ma’ruf wa Nahy an al Munkar. the phrase meaning “to do what is right and to forbid what is wrong.” This concept is very important because it is one of the fundamental tenets in Islam and thus pertains to Islamic law and Islamic ethics. The Quran considers this as one of the fundamental aspects of being a Muslim.  Gulen keeps telling the Western audience that “real Muslims cannot be terrorists and terrorists cannot be Muslims” but what happened July 15, 2016 was an act of terror, and Turkey now considers Gulen’s cult as a terrorist organization.

Gulen has never been consistent in his view or stand. Whatever works for him, he takes that position. Before he moved to the United States, he treated the West as the enemy. He wrote in his book Cag ve nesil, “Westerners would exhibit no human behavior.” Yet, in a November 2011 weekly sermon online, he called upon the Turkish military to attack the Kurdish separatists: “locate them, surround them, break up their units, let fire rain down upon their houses, drown out their lamentations with even more wails, cut off their roots and put an end to their cause.” Honest Kurds should know who is a real friend of the Kurds and who is an enemy. Gulen asks for democracy only for his followers, but when his critics object to him and his view, he considers them to be betrayers, curses them, slanders and degrades them. The essence of democracy is freedom of speech, but no one can feel free to criticize Gulen; yet, he and his followers are up to their necks in dirty tricks. There is no disinformation they will not peddle to further the causes they support. But also, according to Islam, stealing is also haram or sin, yet evidence is being revealed that Gulen’s followers were implicated in the Public Personnel’s Selection Examination KPSS cheating scandal and were arrested.

Gulen said he has no political aspiration. “I do not have and never had any relationship with a movement that has political aspirations,” but every day Gulen issues statements against the AKP and especially against President Erdogan. It sounds like Gulen is the opposition party. Particularly telling, his media and his weekly speeches no longer preach about Allah and Mohammed, but they curse Erdogan, defame Erdogan, and insult Erdogan and his politics. History repeats itself. Gulen supported the coup of 1980.  Yet, according to Gulen, it is appropriate and necessary that the state protect itself and its citizens against the chaos and violence that were threatening the Turkish society. Not only does Gulen seek to construct a Gulenist way of practicing Islam, but he also wants to rekindle the Ottoman glory and Islamize the whole world by teaching others to interpret Islam in his way. Gulen and his followers have an ego the size of an iceberg. They would not even allow others to say someone has an eyebrow above his eye.  Gulen has made so many mistakes, but he never apologized for the views that he had in the past.

Gulen and his followers have a history of fabricating evidence and framing individuals they target. They record sex tapes and defame alleged perpetrators in public. In the past they have gone against the head of the Nationalist Party Devlet Bahceli; they went against the former chairperson of the CHP, Deniz Baykal; and against a former follower, Kemalettin Ozdemir, who left the organization, and they defamed him by claiming that he left the organization because of women, so that others will not denounce their community for fear of being slandered. There are countless examples of forgery, lies, and cheating cases involving his followers. Following the hijacking by many of his followers of the Prospect/Foreign Policy’s Global Public Intellectual Poll, in which Gulen had his followers nominate him as one of the world’s top 100 intellectuals, a viewer may see that the manipulation of the poll speaks for itself, so that respected Muslim intellectuals will view this affair with contempt.  Gulen escaped from Turkey in 1999 and told the public that he was sick and that is why he does not go back to Turkey, but now it has been revealed to the public that he was preparing for the coup d’état against the AKP; thankfully, it failed.

To disassociate himself from the recent attempted coup, Gulen is telling the Western media that there is a possibility that it could be a staged coup, by Erdogan’s AKP party. Fetullah Gulen is a retired preacher; despite having only been educated to primary school level, Gulen has become the religious leader of one of the world’s largest cult movements due to the importance that this movement gives education and the fact that he owns schools in more than 140 countries. However, during the political crisis that has erupted in Turkey, Gulen has proven that he is more than a religious leader. Gulen fled Turkey in 1999 for the US, be obtained a residence permit only in 2008 and his application for a green card was recommended by some CIA officials.  Since Gulen is living in the United States and the Turkish public now considers him as a leader of a terror group; it is calling on America to show itself as a friend of Turkey. If it is a friend of Turkey, why is America harboring an enemy of Turkey on its soil? Turkey is asking America to exile him or extradite him. For sure this will have political implications for American and Turkish relations. Whether Turkey is a good partner for America or not, America does not have any other option but to maintain a friendship with Turkey. Gulen is no longer an asset for America, and it is not in Washington’s national interest to keep Gulen on its soil. The best option is to exile him to another country. America has to take into consideration that Turkey is a possible power player in the Middle East and the balance of forces in the region against Moscow and Tehran.  Turkey is a major NATO power, a regional partner that the West also cannot do without in pursuing an effective Middle East strategy. Whether Turkey is being an easy partner to deal with and whether Turkey remains suspicious of the United States are another matter. In particular, these events definitely have set back the establishment of a permanent NATO base in the Black Sea to contain Russia and the use of Incirlik Air Base from which to attack ISIS among other pending projects. I hope everyone now understands the reason why I often write about the FETO organization’s threat to global stability, peace, love, and harmony in spite of its motto of tolerance.

 Dr. Aland Mizell is President of the MCI and a regular contributor to Mindanao Times and Kurdistan Tribune. You may email the author 

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