New York Times’ Exposé: Imam Gulen’s Charter Schools

Is the Media Catching Up with the Turkish Imam’s US Operations?

gulenFor the last two years I have been pounding on Imam Fethullah Gulen’s web of organizations and his charter schools empire in the US. For years I have been marveling about the consistent media blackout on the Turkish Imam Fethullah Gulen’s past and present nefarious activities and highly suspicious partnerships with various US government agencies and elected officials. And of course for almost two years I have been writing and discussing Gulen with you over here at Boiling Frogs Post. Now the New York Times appears to be catching up; at least with a fraction of this notorious Imam’s multi billion dollar network of organizations and businesses. Yesterday, the Times ran a fairly detailed and long exposé on Gulen’s dubious and highly secretive penetration of US school systems via his rapidly growing charter school operations; let’s start with the attention grabbing intro:

TDM Contracting was only a month old when it won its first job, an $8.2 million contract to build the Harmony School of Innovation, a publicly financed charter school that opened last fall in San Antonio. It was one of six big charter school contracts TDM and another upstart company have shared since January 2009, a total of $50 million in construction business. Other companies scrambling for work in a poor economy wondered: How had they qualified for such big jobs so fast?

The secret lay in the meteoric rise and financial clout of the Cosmos Foundation, a charter school operator founded a decade ago by a group of professors and businessmen from Turkey. Operating under the name Harmony Schools, Cosmos has moved quickly to become the largest charter school operator in Texas, with 33 schools receiving more than $100 million a year in taxpayer funds.

Some of the schools’ operators and founders, and many of their suppliers, are followers of Fethullah Gulen, a charismatic Turkish preacher of a moderate brand of Islam whose devotees have built a worldwide religious, social and nationalistic movement in his name. Gulen followers have been involved in starting similar schools around the country — there are about 120 in all, mostly in urban centers in 25 states, one of the largest collections of charter schools in America.

And this is what the paper says it is attempting to examine:

But an examination by The New York Times of the Harmony Schools in Texas casts light on a different area: the way they spend public money. And it raises questions about whether, ultimately, the schools are using taxpayer dollars to benefit the Gulen movement — by giving business to Gulen followers, or through financial arrangements with local foundations that promote Gulen teachings and Turkish culture.

I suggest you visit the site and read the entire article. It is definitely worth reading. You may also want to read a few select pieces from BFP on Gulen:

Did You Know: The King of Madrasas Now Operates over 100 Charter Schools in US?

Turkish Intel Chief Exposes CIA Operations via Islamic Group in Central Asia

Additional Omitted Points in CIA-Gulen Coverage & A Note From ‘The Insider’

The Sanitized Gulen Coverage Continues

And here are some appetite inducing excerpts from the Times’ article [All Emphasis Mine]:

Records show that virtually all recent construction and renovation work has been done by Turkish-owned contractors. Several established local companies said they had lost out even after bidding several hundred thousand dollars lower.

In April, however, the agency notified Harmony of an unreleased preliminary audit questioning more than $540,000 in inadequately documented expenses, the vast majority involving federal grant money. Neither the agency nor Harmony would disclose details of the findings.

Today the United States has more Gulen-inspired schools than any country but Turkey, according to a presentation by Joshua Hendrick, a professor at Loyola University Maryland whose 2009 dissertation explored the movement. In Texas, Harmony now educates more than 16,000 children. Eight schools have opened in the last year alone.

Last year, local contractors questioned the fairness of bidding on two Harmony renovation jobs in the Austin area. On one job, in the suburb of Pflugerville, the low bidder, at $1.17 million, was a well-known Texas company, Harvey-Cleary. The job went to Atlas Texas Construction and Trading, even though its bid was several hundred thousand dollars higher. Atlas, with offices in Texas and Turkey, shows up on a list of Gulen-affiliated companies in a 2006 cable from the American Consul General in Istanbul, Deborah K. Jones, that was released by WikiLeaks.

Dr. Tarim, who came from Turkey and studied aquatic ecology at Texas A&M, objects to common references to the schools as Turkish. Still, even if they are American charter schools first and foremost, the schools do have an undeniable Turkish flavor.

Harmony advertises that its teachers “are recruited from around the world,” but most of its foreign teachers are Turkish men, and all but a handful of the 33 principals are men from Turkey. In addition to the standard foreign languages, the schools offer instruction in Turkish. They encourage students and teachers, even parents, to join subsidized trips to Turkey.

Here comes an emphasis on Gulenists’ denial and secrecy game:

“I’m not a follower of anybody,” Dr. Tarim said in an interview. Records show, however, that when applying to the State of Texas to form Harmony schools, he was a consultant to Virginia International University in Fairfax, one of the private universities that lawyers for Mr. Gulen say were originally inspired by his teachings.

At a forum on the schools last December in Houston, Dr. Hendrick, the Maryland professor, argued that such denials had only deepened the ambiguity and helped fuel suspicion. “Why do leaders deny affiliation when affiliation is clear?” he asked.

And this one on thousands of Turkish teachers imported here:

American consular employees reviewing visas have questioned the credentials of some teachers as they sought to enter the country. “Most applicants had no prior teaching experience, and the schools were listed as related to” Mr. Gulen, a consular employee wrote in a 2009 cable. It did not say which schools had hired the teachers. Some with dubious credentials were denied visas.

In February, a Chicago charter school union affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers complained to the federal Department of Labor, alleging that the Chicago Math and Science Academy and Concept Schools, a group that operates 25 schools in the Midwest, had abused the visa system by “routinely assigning these teachers duties or class load that seemingly do not take into account the laws governing H1-B visa holders.”

The Labor Department had already been investigating at least one Concept school.

Here is one example out of many methods they use to pocket elected officials:

One group, the Raindrop Foundation, helped pay for State Senator Leticia Van de Putte’s travel to Istanbul last year, according to a recent campaign report. In January, she co-sponsored a Senate resolution commending Mr. Gulen for “his ongoing and inspirational contributions to promoting global peace and understanding.”

In an interview, Ms. Van de Putte described the trip as a working visit.

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  1. Bill Bergman says:

    Just copying and pasting from the American Conservative interview material you included in one of your past stories on the topic:

    “GIRALDI: You also have information on al-Qaeda, specifically al-Qaeda in Central Asia and Bosnia. You were privy to conversations that suggested the CIA was supporting al-Qaeda in central Asia and the Balkans, training people to get money, get weapons, and this contact continued until 9/11…

    EDMONDS: I don’t know if it was CIA. There were certain forces in the U.S. government who worked with the Turkish paramilitary groups, including Abdullah Çatli’s group, Fethullah Gülen.

    GIRALDI: Well, that could be either Joint Special Operations Command or CIA.

    EDMONDS: Maybe in a lot of cases when they said State Department, they meant CIA?

    GIRALDI: When they said State Department, they probably meant CIA.

    EDMONDS: Okay. So these conversations, between 1997 and 2001, had to do with a Central Asia operation that involved bin Laden. Not once did anybody use the word “al-Qaeda.” It was always “mujahideen,” always “bin Laden” and, in fact, not “bin Laden” but “bin Ladens” plural. There were several bin Ladens who were going on private jets to Azerbaijan and Tajikistan. The Turkish ambassador in Azerbaijan worked with them.

    There were bin Ladens, with the help of Pakistanis or Saudis, under our management. Marc Grossman was leading it, 100 percent, bringing people from East Turkestan into Kyrgyzstan, from Kyrgyzstan to Azerbaijan, from Azerbaijan some of them were being channeled to Chechnya, some of them were being channeled to Bosnia. From Turkey, they were putting all these bin Ladens on NATO planes. People and weapons went one way, drugs came back.

    GIRALDI: Was the U.S. government aware of this circular deal?

    EDMONDS: 100 percent. A lot of the drugs were going to Belgium on NATO planes. After that, they went to the UK, and a lot came to the U.S. via military planes to distribution centers in Chicago and Paterson, New Jersey. Turkish diplomats who would never be searched were coming with suitcases of heroin.”

  2. I wish then MSM would catch up with what Bill just referenced.

  3. @Bill: Thank you for pointing out…You know, it is so frustrating, some people, the media, say, ‘oh, she keeps adding new allegations…’ and I go back retrieve my interviews from years before, shove it into their faces and say, ‘no, it’s been there-said for years; blame it on media blackout, or blame it on your own ignorance…’
    My point: it helps when savvy people like you keep track of these major points and recongnize when you see fitting additions.

  4. Here’s another aspect of the school system in Texas. When lots of teachers were being laid off in California, many TX. school districts were recruting from there. Now, both states are laying off lots of people. If you’re then thinking about the private sector, lots of corporations are cutting back on claases. Even private students in various subjects are cutting back.

    Expanding the charter system only makes the gap between the haves and the have nots even wider than it already is.

  5. Once all the arrows in one’s quiver have been carelessly shot, the peril at one’s doorstep is of one’s own making.

    The intricacy of the thread by which certain strata of the Turkish state and society have been bound into the zionist web gainsays all but the most patient and painstaking examination. And numbered much less than the fingers on one hand are the commentators capable of conducting such a forensic exam. Clearly you are one of them. Just as clearly, to ignore that web and it’s victims is to be every bit as ‘sanitized’ in your approach as those whom you complain about. The raw facts that you are so invaluably capable of supplying(as requoted above here by Mr Bergman) are absolutely useless in alleviating the looming authoritarian disaster without said autopsy, as dirty, dangerous and disquietous as it may be.

    To waste one’s potential, nay, one’s God-given authority to illuminate the peril that endangers the West is a tragic misuse of a great gift (and responsibility). There are, of course, greater sins, but few that will have more fateful consequences for our progeny.

    Gulen AND the Generals are but separate stalks of the hydra which has never ceased to hegemonize over the Turkish state for close nigh a century now. And you do not kill Gorgons by chopping at their separate heads. Even less by treating one of those snapping manifestations of the Beast as a “better” one(the Kurdish ploy of the zionist enterprise).

    It’s hard at this point to decide what is the more painful – to see you continue to loose(the NOT unlimited supply of) your arrows short of the target, or contemplate your leaving the field of battle altogether.

    Alright, I must admit that the blogoshpere minus Sibel would leave the West even more defenceless than it is…and if the site is being viciously attacked as you relate, then you must be still doing something right! While I am suspicious that this sites’ GLARING refusal to even touch upon the presence of the huge zionist elephant slowly asphyxiating everyone in the room is a telltale sign of co-optation or blackmailed compliance, I’m not afraid to give benefit of doubt in deference to past performance. One more time.

    OK…here’s my offer. As tiresome as the ‘manofhope’ nonsense might be, they do have a point about anonymity which deserves respectful attention rather than dismissive scorn…if you give me a means that I can send to anywhere in Turkiye you choose a money order in TL I will cough up, on the slender hope that my persistence in holding your fingers to the fire will pay off one day soon in the form of a newly forthcoming SE. I no longer choose to conduct or support any business in US$ bogusbucks, a suitcase of which very soon won’t be able to buy you a months bandwidth…smart folks have already made their arrangements, why not hop off the sinking ship afore the deckchairs are awash?

  6. jschoneboom says:

    Is it just me or does janissary speak in riddles? I like a nice riddle as much as the next man but in this case I wish you’d come out and say whatever it is you’re trying to say. Are you trying to say Sibel should spend more time blaming Israel for various problems?

    My assumption is she likes to stick to what she knows to be facts and to be a bit conservative about extrapolating and interpreting, which as far as I’m concerned is the smart play. Her entire credibility is built on direct knowledge of certain events, phenomena, relationships from her FBI days. Credibility is hard to win, easy to lose. One of the easiest ways to lose it is to be careless and get hit with the antisemitism tag. She doesn’t need theories, no matter how good the evidence. She’s smart to stick to what she can defend: with facts.

    Please note I’m not saying you’re wrong. It’s just that Sibel is in a unique position, which you seem to want her to exploit in a certain way, but which I would argue she should be careful about protecting…by not wandering too far afield of her direct experience. You may be implying she has evidence she’s not using. But it’s pretty tiresome hearing vague insinuations about her being mysteriously co-opted by “The Man” or whomever. First of all, if avoiding trouble was her main interest, she could sure play her cards differently! Second of all, how about letting her run her own life? Third of all, again, jeez, if you’ve got something to say, say it and be done with it.

  7. Your cloak of invisibility is betrayed by your vorpal sword. The platinum dragon walks incognito as an old man with seven birds on a stick.

  8. jschoneboom says:


  9. @jschoneboom: It’s not only you:-)I’ve been getting pressure from those who say I’m not pounding enough on Israel topic; there are others who say I’m not talking about 9/11 enough; others say I am not covering the environment and healthcare, and a few want more podcast interviews more frequently… You see I have to multiply me by 10-20, maybe give up my child and family, and live on the street homeless by giving up by work…Because some of the same people want all this and without any contribution because everything online should be free…Soooo, I keep ignoring irrational demands;-)

  10. Ok. I guess the good news is that at least we get to the end of the tunnel now.

    I made a point blank query as to the means by which I can make the MUCH requested donation to the site without compromising my moral scruples(dealing in the debased US$ is a form of supporting the evil empire this journalistic effort is supposedly a critic of) and simply make it easy for me to do it!

    Twisting that to be in any way connected to the harangues of cheapskates and\or hirelings who take umbrage at having to pay for a service, and irrational to boot is a bit over the top I think I can safely say. If the blog author feels it is time to circle the wagons and pay attention only to syncophants, this is surely her perogative, sad as it may be. Making a donation is to express a concrete form of solidarity with the image of Sibel Edmonds that was formed by her courageous refusal to bow down to TPTB. BACK IN THE DAY!…but if it requires silencing one’s right to challenge and admonish, it’s no place for the true dissenter against the authoritarian impulse sweeping the West.

    oops…I forgot I was asked to dumb down the dialogue to the point where it meets the standards of the brain-addled victims of the the daily dosage of chemtrails, electromagnetic & HAARP etc. psychological warfare techniques against civilian populations of the formerly free world…aka the dead enders who refused to leave the fallen lands before this onslaught against the West took it’s inevitable toll of folks ability to perform basic cognitive functions…Ok, let me give it a shot.

    Sibel had the means and the motive to be the messenger able to expose that dirty laundry which when suitably hung out for all the neighborhood to see would have been the one unavoidable truth that the MSM and TPTB could not have squelched the implications of…it was that big…and the consequences of her refusal to do so will be that big as well.
    9-11? consider that the prequel to what’s coming at you all. Not toned down enough yet to get through? Picture ol Wily E Coyote out there in space after running off the edge of the cliff…snatching a look down at the very hard place down below and then trying real hard to sustain that moment of suspended animation before the gravity thing happens…that’s you in the West right now. My wish was that as many of you as possible could be warned ahead of time and given the chance to avoid the consequences of the genocidal campaign custom-tailored to decimate the people who share my DNA. No riddles, nothing evasive a’tall bout MY stay here, just this last week I requoted my own contribution of January to show that crying about the BinBaden hoax and ABBOTABADGATE after ignoring my prompt way back then to call the whole thing out is a little rich.

    Opportunity knocks but once or twice, I suspect it’s moved on from the once fearless former translator and whistleblower. You’re welcome to your conclusions jschoneboom*, and the consequences thereof. I’ll stick to my own. I’ve done my thing here and I don’t think it will be necessary for me to continue to bother Sibel and fans with my ‘irrational demands!’

    *btw…the cabbalists count upon your fear of ‘the antisemitism tag’-it’s what keeps the whole game going. There’s no shortage of ‘facts’as to who was behind the Towers, and the whole ‘radical islam’ false flag…just a shortage of folks who want to know em. Good luck with that ostrich thing!

  11. @janissary:Sibel had the means and the motive to be the messenger able to expose that dirty laundry which when suitably hung out for all the neighborhood to see would have been the one unavoidable truth that the MSM and TPTB could not have squelched the implications of…it was that big…and the consequences of her refusal to do so will be that big as well.

    What is it that you think she can expose and hasn’t, in literal terms? (It’s the riddle of you not saying what it is that you want, not your great intellect and skill with language, that was questioned.)

  12. Kingfisher says:

    “Your cloak of invisibility is betrayed by your vorpal sword. The platinum dragon walks incognito as an old man with seven birds on a stick.”

    Oh snap, ZT!

    Today’s Tom Sawyer, He gets high on you, And the space he invades, He gets by on you!!!!!

  13. And she’s buying a stairway to heaven. Like a rolling stone.

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