Turkish imam Fethullah Gulen is in a self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania to avoid criminal punishment under the administration of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to The Hill, Gulen has spent his time in America launching over 140 publicly-funded charter schools in 26 states.
Investigations by the Washington DC-based newspaper focus on two concerns associated with these schools.
"…The Gulen organization uses charter schools and affiliated businesses in the US to misappropriate and launder state and federal education dollars, which the organization then uses for its own benefit to develop political power in this country and globally," Robert R. Amsterdam writes for The Hill.
While tax fraud is a concern, the school's’ use of specialty occupation visas is more telling, because it allows Gulen’s organization to import Turkish teachers. These teachers are evaluated not on their merits, but by a "secret point system designed to instill Turkish culture and Gulenist ideology in our American students."
"The goal, we are told, is to develop a Gulenist following of high achievers, incubated in our local community across the country," Amsterdam writes.
The charter schools deny any affiliation with Gulen, insisting that they’re only "inspired by Gulen’s religious teachings."
These schools are now expanding onto US military bases. The Coral Academy of Science Las Vegas (CASLV) is under negotiation with the US Air Force to open a campus on Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. In 2009, Gulen’s organization also opened a school on Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona.
Gulen attempted to open schools at Marine Corps Bases in Hawaii, a Great Lakes naval station in Illinois, and a Marine Corps Base Camp in Pendleton, but these deals all fell through.
"Lest there be any doubt about the objectives in the United States, the strategy of subtly indoctrinating schoolchildren into the Gulen movement is a familiar one overseas, and there is great peril in allowing it to flourish in this country," Amsterdam writes.
The former imam managed to establish a similar network in his native Turkey prior to his exile, and operates in roughly 101 countries. His movement has an estimated six million followers and holds assets between $20-$50 billion.
"…The [US] Department of Homeland Security should be asking itself why such a non-transparent, religion-based organization would seek to establish itself on our military bases, teaching the children of our service men and women."