The presence of Fethullah Gulen's followers in the Turkish army [TUR40276.E]

An article written on Fethullah Gulen's movement and published in the Middle East Review of International Affairs stated that

[w]hile the Turkish army appears to accept Gulen and his followers as a domestic movement, not inspired by any foreign influence such as Iran or Saudi Arabia, the suspicion still exists that he may seek to subvert the military from within by sending his followers to the military academies. ... This may already be the case since it is known that the West Working Group in the Office of the Chief of the General Staff, has prepared a file dealing with the activities of Gulen's followers focusing on their educational institutions abroad. Members of the military have also visited most of these schools in Asia. Furthermore, the military leadership has shown no desire to be seen with Gulen, unlike secular politicians and intellectuals. ...
Despite the fact that Gulen himself has expressed respect for the military, the military is generally opposed to him. Since conservative circles in Turkey hold the military above all other state institutions and never criticize it, if the military were to oppose Gulen strongly, he would lose his civilian support (December 2000).

In August 2000, the BBC reported that "the powerful Turkish military, which regards itself as the guardian of Turkey's secular tradition, has always remained suspicious of Mr. Gulen's motives" (31 Aug. 2000a).

In late August 2000, "[t]he head of the Turkish army ... called for a purge of all Islamist government employees, accusing them of trying to undermine the secular state" (BBC 31 Aug. 2000b). According to the BBC, "[t]he general's comments [came] in the wake of a dispute between the president and prime minister over a decree enabling the sacking of civil servants linked to Islamist and Kurdish movements" (ibid.). Huseyin Kivrikoglu, the chief of the Turkish army's general staff, stated that "[t]he army expels [these] kind[s] of people as soon as it detects them ... If (the government) wants public offices to function properly it should do the same" (ibid.).

On 31 August 2000, Fethullah Gulen was charged with "trying to undermine the secular system and set up an Islamic dictatorship" (Dawn 2 Sept. 2000). According to an article published in Dawn,

The charges were announced just a few hours after the head of the armed forces delivered a stern warning about the threat posed by "radical Islam," those Muslims who want to politicise the Islamic faith.
The military has been leading a campaign against a political Islam since 1997, when it helped bring down Turkey's first Islamist-led government. Mr. Gulen has become one of its highest profile targets (ibid.).

The indictment against Fethullah Gulen, which was written by Ankara State Security Court (DGM) Republican Prosecutor Nuh Mete (also spelt Mateh) Yuksel, claimed that Fethullah Gulen "continued his policy [of] silently ... infiltrat[ing] the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in order to take control over it" (ANA 31 Aug. 2000). In the indictment, Yuksel specified that Gulen

"... cunningly managed to put thousands of his partisans in critical posts in the army, and he intends to take control of the army at least in the next 10 years. Ultimately, the overthrow of the secular system is one of Gulen's long-term aims" (Jomhuri-ye Eslami 3 Sept. 2002).

While it is alleged that followers of Fethullah Gulen are also members of the state police force (ANA 8 Sept. 2002), no other information on the presence of Gulen's followers in the army could be found by the Research Directorate.

For additional information on different aspects of the Fethullah Gulen movement, please consult TUR39724.E of 20 September 2002; TUR38116.E of 22 November 2001; TUR37826 of 19 September 2001;TUR37577.E of 12 September 2001; TUR37763.E of 11 September 2001; TUR35319.E of 18 September 2000 and TUR34175.E of 10 April 2000.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Anatolia News Agency (ANA) [Ankara, in Turkish]. 8 September 2002. "Turkey: Fundamentalist Fethullah Organization Uncovered within Police Force." (FBIS-WEU-2002-0908 8 Sept. 2002/WNC)

_____. 31 August 2000. "Turkey: Indictment of Fethullah Gulen Detailed, Cites Policy to Infiltrate Army." (FBIS-WEU-2000-0831 31 Aug. 2000/WNC)

BBC. 31 August 2000a. Pam O'Toole. "Gulen: The Face of Secular Islam." [Accessed 1 Nov. 2002]

_____. 31 August 2000b. "Army Chief Demands Islamist Purge." [Accessed 1 Nov. 2002]

Dawn [Karachi]. 2 September 2000. Chris Morris. "Turkey Targets 'Radical Islam.'" [Accessed 1 Nov. 2002]

Jomhuri-ye Eslami [Tehran, in Persian]. 3 September 2000. "Iran Paper: Secularists' Fight Against Islam Intensifying in Turkey." (FBIS-NES-2000-0919 3 Sept. 2000/WNC)

Middle East Review of International Affairs. December 2000. Vol. 4, No. 4. "Fethullah Gulen and His Liberal 'Turkish Islam' Movement." [Accessed 1 Nov. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

Nabou [London, Limasso-Cyprus].

Turkey Update.

Turkish Press.

World News.

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