In my line of work, you come to expect a wide variety of defamatory attacks, threats, and harassment.
I’ve been arrested by Putin’s police in Moscow, dodged sniper bullets in Bangkok (or close enough for my tastes), and been pressured in not-so-subtle ways from Caracas to Lagos. But what’s been interesting about the latest round of personal insults from Hizmet acolytes supporting Fethullah Gülen is not the anti-Semitic smears or threats of violence, but rather that they can’t even be honest about who they are when they stand up to attack me.
The latest item is a letter published in The Hill signed by one Y. Alp Aslandogan, in response to my March 31 article titled “Why should Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen operate charter schools on U.S. Military bases?”
My article shared crucial information collected as part of our global investigation into the unlawful activities of the Gülen organization, which not only include allegations of massive taxpayer fraud and misrepresentation in numerous states, but also revealed determined efforts to set up their proselytizing charter schools on the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
As I wrote in the article, this was not the first attempt. They had also previously opened a school on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in 2009, and they “tried but failed to gain access to Marine Corps Base Hawaii and Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois. In California, Magnolia Public Schools applied for a charter in Oceanside, where Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is located, although it temporarily withdrew its application after our law firm pointed out Magnolia’s connection to the Gülen organization earlier this year.”
Given the opportunity to respond to these very concerning questions, Mr. Aslandogan declines to explain why Gülen wants access to military bases. He declines to comment or explain why so many Gülen schools have lied about their ties to other Gülen schools and businesses in other states. He declines to offer an explanation regarding the widespread abuse of H1B visas or the allegations that the organization is engaged in the systemic defrauding of taxpayers, hoovering up funding state-by-state and moving the cash away from the schools.
Instead, Mr. Aslandogan resorts to an attack on my integrity, citing my work for the Red Shirt pro-democracy network in Thailand (which, we should keep in mind, is currently ruled by a military junta following a coup). If he were not so intent on personal attacks, Aslandogan could see that we are firmly pro-democracy. Our role in assisting the Republic of Turkey in reigning in a multinational criminal organization engaged in widespread money laundering, fraud, and misappropriation is very much consistent with the values of universal rule of law.
What Mr. Aslandogan does not reveal is that he himself has a long history as an agent of the Gülen network (he is quite literally his “right-hand man“). Years back, he founded one charter school in Wisconsin, and then, along with other well known members Ibrahim Duyar, Ali Serdar Dalkilic, Yasar Bora, and Ergun Koyuncu, he tried but failed to open two more in Illinois (he was lead petitioner for two separate Horizon Math and Science Academy schools).
Aslandogan heads up a front organization called the “Alliance for Shared Values,” which is one of the few NGOs openly admitting that it is backed by Gülen, however, predictably, he doesn’t bother to point that out in his letter.
So we have a situation here in which Mr. Aslandogan is arguing that it’s OK for the Gülenists to violate U.S. law and defraud taxpayers because there are heated political disputes in Turkey. Further, he is asking us to believe that all these allegations represent a “conspiracy,” while at the same time he is not being truthful about who he works for.
If Mr. Aslandogan and other Gülenists want to come forward and have a debate on the facts, I very much welcome it. But please, for the respect of the public, have the decency to at least be honest about who you are and who you work for.