An American pastor who has been jailed on bogus terrorism charges in Turkey for more than five months has asked US President Donald Trump to help secure his release. Pastor Brunson has no known ties to terrorist groups, and the Turkish government has not produced any evidence to show that he does.
Followers of this liberal U.S.-based cleric, Gulen, were scapegoated for the July 2016 coup. Tens of thousands of police officers and security officials were fired and even arrested, simply for being followers of Gulen, an opponent of ISIS. The Turkish President seems willing to blame everyone but ISIS, or even offer much of an anti-ISIS campaign.
Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan appears to be having a double dealings on taking the fight to ISIS. He has instead prefer a cosmetic approach in tackling the terrorist group. It is high time Erdogan purged himself of insincerity and religious rhetoric in the fight against ISIS and joined forces with other leaders to bring enduring peace to Turkey, the Middle-East and the various parts of the world.
US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen said on Tuesday that fabricated stories in the pro-government media about new terror attacks and political assassinations in Turkey could be associated with followers of the faith-based Gülen movement.
Mr. Erdogan’s own Islamist and autocratic tendencies have also compounded the country’s vulnerability. Since an attempted coup last summer, the President has purged thousands of police officers and soldiers, and the resulting talent and resources gap may have damaged Ankara’s counterterror capabilities.
Fethullah Gulen issued a message of condolences and condemnation of the terrorist attack in an Istanbul nightclub on New Year’s Eve. Gulen said, “I pray that God grant mercy and forgiveness to those who lost their lives during a time normally reserved for celebration, hope and renewal.”
The on-camera murder of Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov by 22-year-old Turkish police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas raised some disturbing questions about corruption and security in Turkey. In an interview with Hurriyet Daily News, Altintas’s step-sister Seher made those questions even more disturbing by claiming her brother was radicalized in police school.
While the Turkish government insists on claiming that Mert Altıntaş, the police officer who assassinated the Russian ambassador to Ankara, is linked to the Gülen movement, it has been discovered that the gunman attended the sermons of Nurettin Yıldız, a staunch supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Ironically, Erdogan finds it more expedient to blame Hizmet, rather than Daesh (IS), for the jihadist atrocities being consistently perpetrated in Turkey today. Thus, the Turkish Islamist president has got a scapegoat following all terror incidents of jihadist nature or other internal crisis engulfing the country.
John Kirby, spokesman of the US State Department, said “Secretary [Kerry] has raised concerns about some of the rhetoric coming out of Turkey with respect to American involvement or support, tacit or otherwise, for this unspeakable assassination yesterday because of the presence of Mr. Gülen here in the United States.”
The Jabhat Fatah al-Sham organization (formerly the al-Nusra Front) claimed to be responsible for Monday’s murder of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov’s in Ankara. Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu had even told his US counterpart John Kerry that both Turkey and Russia “know” that the Gulen movement was behind the ambassador’s murder.
However, Erdogan has a problem: Whereas Ataturk came to power as a military general, Erdogan has a democratic mandate to govern. Ataturk’s Turkey was rural and only 10 percent of the country was literate at the time, with most educated people supporting his agenda. Erdogan’s Turkey is 80 percent urban and nearly 100 percent literate, and many well-educated Turks oppose his agenda.