Top Texas Gulenist Arrested in Armenia at U.S. Request

By David North on October 5, 2018

We have written for years about how a conservative (and non-terrorist) Islamic cult has taken over scores of U.S. charter schools, manipulated our immigration laws, and siphoned off public funds to help finance the cult's activities here and overseas.

This is the Gulenist movement, led by the self-exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in rural Pennsylvania. Gulen charter schools routinely ignore unemployed U.S. school teachers and bring in hundreds if not thousands of staff members — including at least one English teacher — from Turkey via the H-1B program.

Despite years of investigation, by federal and state officials, I do not recall a single federal indictment of a Gulenist, but that spell has finally been broken.

Kemal Oksuz, a Turkish-born U.S. citizen and former Houston businessman, was arrested, at the request of the United States, by the police in Armenia. The charge: He lied to the U.S. government about the funding of a large-scale visit to Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan by 10 U.S. members of Congress and 32 staffers; the money for the 2013 trip did not come from the sources he had reported, it came from an arm of the Azerbaijan government.

As background, Armenia and Azerbaijan, two nations that are adjacent to each other but do not get along, are both also adjacent to Turkey, and both were, once upon a time, within the old Ottoman Empire, which is deeply revered by the Gulenists. Later, both were within the Czarist and the Soviet empires; but now they are independent nations. The Gulen movement is a worldwide operation, with strong cells in many nations, including Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. The movement, apparently, is hostile to Armenia, most of whose citizens are Christians.

Moving away from the Caucasus and back to the United States, one of the methods that the Gulen movement has used to sway American politicians of both parties, but primarily Democrats, was to give them lavish, all-expenses paid trips to Turkey and sometimes Azerbaijan. (There are no more Turkish trips, however, because Gulen had a major falling out with the authoritarian President of Turkey, Recip Erdogan.)

For example, scoring a number of such trips was Michael Madigan. He is, among other things, the senior Democratic ward leader in the Chicago Democratic machine; the father of the (elected) Attorney General of the state, Lisa Madigan; the long-time speaker of the state House of Representatives; and the chairman of the state Democratic Committee, as we reported a few years ago. The State of Illinois, for some reason, gives some Gulen schools serious financial breaks.

As for the trip that tripped up Oksuz, now in an Armenian jail awaiting extradition, the Washington Post reported this on May 13, 2015:

The state-owned oil company of Azerbaijan secretly funded an all-expenses-paid trip to a conference in Baku, on the Caspian Sea, in 2013 for 10 members of Congress and 32 staff members, according to a confidential ethics report obtained by The Washington Post. Three former top aides to President Obama appeared as speakers at the event.

Lawmakers and their staff members received hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of travel expenses, silk scarves, crystal tea sets and Azerbaijani rugs valued at $2,500 to $10,000, according to the ethics report. Airfare for the lawmakers and some of their spouses cost $112,899, travel invoices show.

The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic, known as SOCAR, allegedly funneled $750,000 through nonprofit corporations based in the United States to conceal the source of the funding for the conference in the former Soviet republic, according to the 70-page report by the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative arm of the House.


The lawmakers who took the trip were Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.), Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), Rubén Hinojosa (D-Tex.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.), Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Ted Poe (R-Tex.) and then-Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Tex.).

Of the 10 listed above, all but three are running for re-election. Poe is not running this year, Grisham is the Democratic candidate for Governor of New Mexico, and Stockman left the House some years ago.

The continuing unwillingness of the media to report on the Gulen movement is illustrated by the recent coverage of the arrest in Armenia by the Houston Chronicle. The name Gulen is not to be found in an otherwise thorough report.

My sense of this media neglect relates to two sets of blindfolds worn by the left and the right: The left does not want to report negative things about the Gulen movement, because that would be a criticism of a minority group, the Turks. The right, on the other hand, is not interested in being critical about charter schools, which are beloved by so many conservatives.

In addition, who is going to believe that a Muslim entity has taken over scores of American public high schools, and is funneling millions in public school money into cult activities here and in the Middle East?

That it happens to be true, apparently, does not matter.