http://articles.philly.com/2011-03-20/news/29148147_1_gulen-schools-gulen-followers-charter-schools" target="_blank">A story in the Philadelphia Inquirer says the FBI and other federal agencies are investigating the network of American charter schools linked to Turkish imam http://www.fethullahgulen.org/" target="_blank">Fethullah Gulen.
The investigation is focusing on an alleged system of kickbacks that Turkish workers make to their charter-school employers, and on whether the schools are misusing taxpayer money, the story says. You may recall last year I wrote about the Tucson-based Sonoran Science Academy's http://azstarnet.com/staff/tim-steller/article_dec199db-be3f-5519-be3d-f6ad970db1f8.html" target="_blank">high use of workers from Turkey and its connections to the Gulen Movement.
Here's how Italian investigative reporter Claudio Gatti and Inquirer staff writer Martha Woodall put it in Sunday's paper:
Federal agencies - including the FBI and the Departments of Labor and Education - are investigating whether some charter school employees are kicking back part of their salaries to a Muslim movement founded by Gulen known as Hizmet, or Service, according to knowledgeable sources.
(The investigation) is focused on whether hundreds of Turkish teachers, administrators, and other staffers employed under the H1B visa program are misusing taxpayer money.
The story has appeared at an interesting moment. The New York Times is allegedly investigating the so-called "Gulen Schools" now (http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2010-08-17-turkishfinal17_CV_N.htm" target="_blank">USA Today did last year). But even as acceptance of these charter schools as affiliated with the Gulen movement is spreading, a counteroffensive is growing on the Internet.
An unnamed writer started http://goosenetwork.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">a website called "Goose Network," which describes itself as "deciphering vicious bloggers calling them Fethullah Gulen Charter Schools." This site takes aim at some of the more extreme critics of the Gulen-inspired charter schools who have described the movement as militant or terroristic.
Another site, about the "imaginary schools of Fethullah Gulen," has a similar aim -- undercutting the idea that the schools are linked to the Gulen movement. These sites tend to be written by unnamed people.
The funny thing is, these sites have emerged at the same time many people sympathetic to the movement have acknowledged that the schools are at least "inspired" by Gulen, if not outright affiliated with the movement's hierarchy. http://gulenschools.org/" target="_blank">This site, for example, is clearly supportive of the Gulen movement and refers to the schools as "Gulen inspired."
A sympathetic American scholar, http://blogs.chron.com/talkingtolerance/" target="_blank">Jill Carroll, has http://blogs.chron.com/talkingtolerance/2008/05/im_saying_something_nice_about.html" target="_blank">repeatedly http://azstarnet.com/staff/tim-steller/article_dec199db-be3f-5519-be3d-f6ad970db1f8.html" target="_blank">acknowledged that the American charter schools are affiliated with the international Gulen school movement. And sociologist Joshua Hendrick http://azstarnet.com/news/blogs/senor-reporter/article_78c5b71e-0e01-11e0-9e51-001cc4c03286.html" target="_blank">suggested at a recent conference that Turkish-run charter school officials should stop denying the undeniable connections to the Gulen movement.
A counter-offensive by Gulen-movement supporters appears under way in Turkey as well. There, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/04/world/europe/04turkey.html" target="_blank">the government has arrested at least seven journalists, some of whom raised concerns about infiltration by Gulenists in the country's security services.
While being led away, one journalist said of the Gulen movement "Whoever touches it gets burned."