Bosphorus Bridge, scene of Army coup plotters’ surrender
Erdogan blames Fethullah Gulen, a 75-year-old recluse living in Poconos community of 1,100
- Erdogan said those behind the coup were linked to Pennsylvania
- He was referencing his ally turned political rival Fethullah Gulen
- Tension reportedly began after Turkish government shut down network of schools started by Gulen’s followers, known as Hizmet
- Hizmet has deep roots in Turkey’s military and political establishment
- President repeatedly accused Gulen of plotting to overthrow government
- Coup was reportedly led by Colonel Muharrem Kose, who was recently kicked out of the army over his links to Gulen
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, blamed an Islamic scholar in Pennsylvania for the coup attempt after he made a triumphant return to Istanbul announcing the military uprising had failed.
Explosions and gunfire erupted in Istanbul and Ankara, but Erdogan said the coup was orchestrated 5,000 miles away in a reference to his political rival Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in voluntary exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania since the late 1990s.
Gulen, 75, initially swung his millions-strong support behind of Erdogan, who rose from the mayor of Istanbul to prime minister before he became the president in 2014.
But the two fell out over a massive corruption scandal in 2013 that cost the country $100billion in a campaign thought to be initiated by Gulen’s followers against Erdogan’s closest allies.
President Recep Erdogan (left) said the coup was orchestrated 5,000 miles away in a reference to his political rival Fethullah Gulen (right), who has lived in voluntary exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania since the late 1990s
Erdogan (center) has long accused Gulen of plotting to overthrow the officially secular government from a gated 26-acre compound in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains
The coup was reportedly led by Colonel Muharrem Kose, who had recently been kicked out of the army from over his links to Gulen (pictured, Turkish military stand guard near Taksim Square in Istanbul)
Trained as an imam, Gulen gained notice in Turkey some 50 years ago, promoting a philosophy that blended a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue.
Supporters known as the loosely organized group Hizmet, meaning ‘service’, started 1,000 schools in more than 100 countries, including about 150 taxpayer-funded charter schools throughout the US.
In Turkey, they have run universities, hospitals, charities, a bank and a large media empire with newspapers and radio and TV stations.
Critics, however, are skeptical of the group’s widespread control and allegations have been made accusing Hizmet of trying to indoctrinate students into Gulen’s movement.
Gulen backed the rise of Erdogan’s AK Party until the government closed down a network of Hizmet’s private schools, according to the BBC.
In 2013, Turkey’s corruption scandal, thought to have been instigated by Gulen’s followers, served a harsh blow to Erdogan’s administration when three ministers resigned after their sons were implicated.
Fethullah Gulen, is a recluse Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, about 75 miles north of Philadelphia, but his influence extends around the world, with supporters firmly rooted in Turkey’s political and military establishment
Erdogan has repeatedly accused Gulen of plotting to overthrow the officially secular government from a gated 26-acre compound in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, which has a population of about 1,100.
The president, who was on vacation in the resort town of Marmaris when the coup began, issued a statement to CNN tonight referring to a ‘parallel structure’ behind the coup, a reference to Gulen’s followers.
Hours later, he touched down at Ataturk airport in a move that signaled the waning momentum of the military forces, reportedly led by Colonel Muharrem Kose.
Kose had recently been kicked out of the army from his position as head of the military’s legal advisory department, over his links to Gulen. He was killed during the clashes with Erdogan’s supporters, sources report.
Addressing the media in Istanbul tonight, Erdogan said those behind the coup were ‘being told what to do from Pennsylvania’ and warned they would pay a ‘heavy price for their treason’.
Tanks and armored personnel carriers tried to seize strategic points in Istanbul and Ankara but were faced down by unarmed civilians (pictured, Erdogan’s supporters in Istanbul’s Taksim Square)
A man poses with the flag of Turkey in front of a car crushed by a military tank as people gather in Kizilay Square to protest the military coup in the capital city of Ankara
Turkey’s parliamentary building was bombed as this picture shows the devastation from the explosive
Erdogan, pictured, was in the holiday resort of Marmaris when the coup began. He referred to a ‘parallel structure’ behind the coup, a reference to Gulen’s followers
Protesters blocked the tanks from seizing the airport, which allowed President Erdogan to make his triumphant return to Istanbul in a move that signaled the military’s waning momentum
Lawyer Robert Amsterdam, whose firm represents the Republic of Turkey, named Gulen and said there were ‘indications of direct involvement’.
In a statement on his website, Amsterdam wrote: ‘According to Turkish intelligence sources I have spoken with, there are indications of direct involvement by the powerful fugitive cleric Fethullah Gülen…
‘We have attempted repeatedly to warn the US government of the threat posed by this organization, however, at the same time, the Gülenists have been waging their own campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the elected Turkish government.
‘The fact that now there are signs that Gülen is working closely with certain members of military leadership against the elected civilian government is indeed a very alarming sign.’
Y. Alp Aslandogan, the president of The Alliance for Shared Values, a non-profit group affiliated with Gulen, said: ‘We categorically deny such accusations and find them to be highly irresponsible.”
July 15, 2016News media reported about developments in Turkey today regarding actions of Turkish ArmedForces.For more than 40 years, Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet participants have advocated for, and demonstrated their commitment to, peace and democracy. We have consistently denounced military interventions in domestic politics.These are core values of Hizmet participants.We condemn any military intervention in domestic politics of Turkey.Events on the ground are moving quickly and it would be irresponsible for us to speculate on them. We remain concerned about the safety and security of Turkish citizens and those in Turkey right now.Comments by pro-Erdogan circles about the movement are highly irresponsible. http://www.afsv.org.
Lawyer Robert Amsterdam, whose firm represents the Republic of Turkey, named Gulen and said there were ‘indications of direct involvement’ (pictured, people attempting to stop a tank in Ankara)
‘We remain concerned about the safety and security of Turkish citizens and those in Turkey right now. Comments by pro-Erdogan circles about the movement are highly irresponsible.’
Amsterdam also accused Gulen of ‘unlawful conduct’ last month, but a lawsuit against the cleric was thrown out by a federal judge, who said the allegations that he organized authorities in Turkey against a rival group did not belong in the US courts.
Some of the US schools started by Hizmet have been investigated by the FBI amid allegations of financial mismanagement and visa fraud.
One of the most explosive claims is that the schools are importing Turkish teachers to identify impressionable students and indoctrinate them into Gulen’s movement.
In May, a complaint filed with Texas education officials accused a network of charter schools associated with the Gulen movement of abusing a visa program to import large numbers of Turkish teachers and violating state and federal laws by paying them more than American teachers.
During the coup on Friday, Turkish military killed at least 60 people – 17 of those police officers – in the army’s bid to overthrow the Islamic government that lasted about five hours.
Elsewhere troops opened fire on civilians attempting to cross the river Bosporus in Istanbul in protest to the military coup, while a bomb hit the parliament building according to the state’s press agency as the security situation in the country becomes more perilous.
Erdogan urged his supporters to ignore the curfew and take back control of the country.
Tanks and armored personnel carriers tried to seize strategic points in Istanbul and Ankara but were faced down by unarmed civilians, some of whom were pictured laying in front of the tracked wheels.