Gülen “fears bomb attack in U.S. home”

Apr 9, 2018 by

Since the Islamist cleric’s rift with Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) went public in 2013, Fethullah Gülen’s presence has loomed large over both international and domestic reporting on the country.

Gülen is revered as a moderate preacher dedicated to interfaith dialogue by his followers, who refer to themselves as “Hizmet,” meaning “Service.”

The Turkish government, and very many Turks from all political spheres, see the group as a malign influence that infiltrated the Turkish state and took control of important positions in the judiciary and police force. To these, Gülenists constitute a terrorist organisation frequently referred to in the Turkish media as “FETÖ.”

Once considered allies of the AKP, the ruling party now claims the group is responsible for a series of attempt to overthrow the Turkish government, starting with corruption investigations on AKP ministers and culminating in the failed July 2016 coup attempt.

The Finnish national public broadcasting company YLE secured a rare interview with the preacher they call “Turkey’s most wanted man”, in his compound in the Poconos Mountain range in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, where he has lived in self-imposed exile since the late 1990s.

“I was told that I could be killed by a bomb attack in my house of wood. Turkey could do that,” Gülen told his interviewers, explaining that he had moved from a wooden house in his compound to a more secure location due to this fear.

The interviewers described the 79-year-old preacher stumbling as he entered a prayer service they were invited to attend. “His supporters have started to discuss the next era of the movement; the one that will begin once their leader has departed,” said YLE’s report.

Yet for all the preacher’s seeming frailty, he still has the energy to roundly deny the charges levelled against him by the Turkish government and wider circles.

YLE reports that Gülen “bristled” at the suggestion that he had collaborated with Erdoğan to strike a blow against secularist circles in Turkey’s military, media and political fields, groups that were considered to pose the greatest threat to both the Islamist-leaning AKP and to Gülenists.

Gülen is equally energetic in his denial of charges that he was involved in the July 15 2016 coup attempt, in which around 300 people died.

““Were there any phone conversations? Has anyone come forward to say that I had told him to do anything? Or has anyone said that the idea originated with me?” YLE quoted Gülen as asking.

Gülen prefers to draw attention to the thousands of his supporters jailed or dismissed from their jobs in Turkey since the coup attempt, including a number snatched from foreign countries by Turkish intelligence in dramatic overseas operations .

“The man who inspired the movement says he lies awake at night and thinks about his supporters’ fate,” reads YLE’s report.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish President ultimately responsible for their arrests, is likened by Gülen to some of the last century’s most murderous dictators.

“Things like this once happened in Germany. We have seen similar things in our recent history in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, modern-day Yemen, and in Libya under Gaddafi,” YLE quoted Gülen as saying.

Coup plotter or moderate religious leader? Yle meets Turkey’s most wanted man What is Fethullah Gulen, a man now vilified as public enemy number one in Turkey, doing in the US backwoods of Pennsylvania? Yle reporter Tom Kankkonen travelled to the Pocono Mountains to meet the reclusive cleric.

Source: Gülen “fears bomb attack in U.S. home” | Ahval

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