Turkey needs stronger lobby in US: Turkish NGO head
Turkey needs a stronger lobby in the U.S. to fight against coup plotters settled in the country, head of a Washington-based Turkish NGO said Wednesday.
Ali Çınar, president of the Turkish Heritage Organization, told reporters during a news conference in Istanbul, that the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) responsible for the defeated coup attempt last July, gets its strength from a network of schools and businesses around the world.
In the U.S., he said, the group is known by the name Gulen Movement.
Çınar said that FETO has over 140 schools across 26 U.S. states where it controls 80,000 students.
He alleged that the revenue earned from these schools is used for non-education purposes.
"Of the $730 million collected annually from these schools, 20 percent goes to FETO," Çınar said.
"What is interesting is that U.S. taxpayers are financing these schools without realizing it."
Most Americans wrongly think that these schools are only providing education to poor children, he said.
In order to fight this perception, Çınar said Turkey needs strong lobbying and public relations activities in the U.S.
"Turkish officials should pay more visits to Washington to inform them about the terror group," he said.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and some 2,200 injured.
Turkey accuses FETO of a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
Since 1999 Gulen has been living in a secluded compound in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains, about 10 miles from the New Jersey border, in self-imposed exile.
For the past two decades, he managed to establish a huge network of charter schools, NGOs, charity foundations and other institutions across the world, including over 100 in the U.S. alone.
Turkey has officially submitted to the U.S. all evidence that FETO's network established a quasi-state within the Turkish state, in an attempt to topple the government and ultimately tried to take over the state through a bloody coup attempt.
Turkish authorities also issued an official request for the extradition of Gulen under a 1979 treaty between Turkey and the U.S.