The Office of the Istanbul Prosecutor has issued arrest warrants for two “former” CIA agents, accusing them of involvement in the failed July 2016 coup attempt against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. US media and various Washington think-tanks have dismissed the charges as “implausible” and a “likely tit-for-tat” response of Erdogan for the arrest by US authorities of Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader accused of violating US sanctions against Iran. Clearly is there is far more behind the accusations than is being said so far.
On December 1, Turkish prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Graham E. Fuller, former head of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council and former CIA head of Middle East and East Asia operations. The warrant claims Fuller was in the vicinity of Istanbul the night of the coup attempt at a meeting with another top “former” CIA person, Henri Barkey. It claims both CIA veterans were meeting at the five-star Splendid Hotel on the island of Büyükada some 20 minutes boat ride from Istanbul.
What’s notable about the charge is the degree of involvement of Fuller with the reclusive Turkish cult leader, Fetullah Gülen, now in exile at an estate in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania since he was forced to flee Turkey in 1998 to escape trial for treason against the state.
“One of the Most Encouraging Faces of Islam…”
In July, 2016, less than a week after Erdogan accused the vast Turkish network of Gülen for being behind the coup, of using a network of senior military officers who had been recruited into the Gülen organization, Fuller wrote for Huffington Post a fulsome praise of Gülen titled, “The Gulen Movement Is Not a Cult; It’s One of the Most Encouraging Faces of Islam Today.” In it Fuller wrote, “I believe it is unlikely that Gulen was the mastermind behind the dramatic failed coup attempt against Erdogan last week…” Fuller goes on to admit he formally backed granting Gülen special US visa status in 2006: “Full disclosure: It is on public record that I wrote a letter as a private citizen in connection with Gülen’s US green card application in 2006 stating that I did not believe that Gülen constituted a security threat to the US…”
Fuller’s “full disclosure” then however omits the fact that it was not merely a casual letter of recommendation to a man Fuller claimed he had met only once. Fuller’s endorsement of Gülen’s Green Card application was so influential that he managed to override the no votes of the FBI, of attorneys for the US State Department and Homeland Security. In the Gülen hearings, State Department attorneys stated, “Because of the large amount of money that Gülen’s movement uses to finance his projects, there are claims that he has secret agreements with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkic governments. There are suspicions that the CIA is a co-payer in financing these projects.”
Gülen in NATO’s Gladio
The ties between Fetullah Gülen and the CIA go way back to the 1980’s when Gülen was recruited to be active in a Turkish right-wing NATO “Gladio” network codenamed Counter-Guerrilla. Gülen broadcast over the CIA’s Radio Free Europe into the Islamic regions of the Soviet Union.
Counter-Guerilla members were responsible for a series of far-right terrorist attacks in Turkey and facilitated a bloody US-backed 1980 military coup. Indeed, in a little slip, in his July 2016 defense of Gülen, Fuller writes in praise about Gülen that, “He even felt compelled to support the military takeover of the state in 1980 in order to preserve the state…”
That US-instigated 1980 coup, as Fuller well knows, established a military dictatorship under General Kenan Evren in which 650,000 people were detained, 230,000 people trialed, all political parties, unions and foundations were closed, 171 were killed under custody, hundreds of thousands people were tortured, and thousands are still missing. A former senior US intelligence official later reported that as the 1980 coup was underway, then President Jimmy Carter was informed by an aide who said, “Our boys have done it.” And Gülen, the peaceful Muslim, endorsed that brutal CIA coup.
Gülen and CIA English Teachers
In the post-Soviet chaos of the 1990’s in Central Asia the CIA used Gülen and his moderate Islam image to build one of their most extensive networks of subversion reaching across the entire so-called Turkic region of former Soviet Central Asia including Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and even into the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China, where ethnic Uyghurs have been recruited via Turkey to wage terror in Syria in recent years.
In 2011, Osman Nuri Gündeş, former head of Foreign Intelligence for the Turkish MIT (the “Turkish CIA”) and chief intelligence adviser in the mid-1990s to Prime Minister Tansu Çiller, published a book that was only released in Turkish. In the book, Gündeş, then 85 and retired, revealed that, during the 1990s, the Gülen schools then growing up across Eurasia were providing a base for hundreds of CIA agents under cover of being “native-speaking English teachers.” According to Gündeş, the Gülen movement “sheltered 130 CIA agents” at its schools in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan alone. The CIA “teachers,” he added, submitted reports to an arm of the Pentagon.
Gülen’s organization had been active in destabilizing newly-independent Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union from the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, when the nominally Muslim Central Asian former Soviet republics declared their independence from Moscow. Gülen was named by one former FBI authoritative source as “one of the main CIA operation figures in Central Asia and the Caucasus.”
Who is G. Fuller?
Even Fuller himself admits that the Gülen organization had some two million members in Turkey on the eve of the July 2016 coup. They had systematically infiltrated and largely controlled national policy, the judiciary, national education and the military. Moreover, Fuller’s CIA associate, Henri Barkey, also under arrest warrant, admitted following the failed coup that he had been in the Istanbul area the night of the coup.
Apparently Turkish authorities now have evidence that Fuller was also there and reportedly flown out of Istanbul across the border to safety in Greece as it became obvious the coup was failing. The Istanbul prosecutor’s office reportedly determined that Fuller had direct contact with former CIA official Henri Barkey and other suspects involved in the coup attempt. Both Barkey and Fuller, who both co-authored a book on Turkey titled Turkey’s Kurdish Question, are accused of organizing a meeting at Splendid Hotel in Büyükada, a 20 minute boat ride from Istanbul on the day of the coup in July 15 2016.
To read Fuller’s words on news of the Turkish arrest warrant, one would come away with the impression that Graham Fuller was a minor CIA figure. He wrote, “I served only once in Turkey…as the most junior officer in the CIA Base in Istanbul in the mid 1960s. I met Gülen exactly once in my life, long years after retiring from CIA, in an interview I conducted with him 15 years ago in Istanbul.”
Fuller may have been junior CIA officer in Istanbul in the 1960’s; careers begin somewhere. However he didn’t stay so for long.
By 1982 the CIA named him National Intelligence Officer for Near East and South Asia. This was in the early years of the CIA Operation Cyclone, the vast CIA covert war in Afghanistan using Mujahideen and using Saudi Osama bin Laden to recruit fanatical jihadist terrorists from the Arab world to kill Soviet soldiers and bog the USSR into what Zbigniew Brzezinski and others referred to as the Soviet’s own Vietnam. Graham Fuller was certainly involved in that CIA Afghan war. He was Kabul CIA Station Chief until 1978, on the eve of the CIA’s launch of their Mujahideen Operation Cyclone.
Then Fuller was posted to CIA Langley where by 1982 the CIA appointed him National Intelligence Officer for Near East and South Asia, which included bin Laden’s Saudi Arabia as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan and Turkey. In 1986, the CIA appointed Graham Fuller vice-chairman of the National Intelligence Council, where he presumably was in a deciding role in the entire Afghan war and more.
In 1987 according to the New York Times, Fuller as vice-chair of the CIA National Intelligence Council wrote an “instrumental” memo advising what became the explosive Iran-Contra scandal, in which the CIA would arrange covert arms sales to Iran to feed the US-orchestrated Iran-Iraq War and use the proceeds to illegally fund the Nicaragua right-wing Contras. In 1988 as media began to investigate the illegal Iran-Contra details, Fuller left his very senior CIA for a post with the Pentagon and CIA-tied RAND corporation where he remained until 2000. Some suspect it was to get out of the Congressional Iran-Contra limelight.
Gülen, Fuller and Central Asia Geopolitics
Notably, while at RAND he co-authored a highly revealing book with Paul B. Henze in 1993 titled Turkey’s New Geopolitics: From the Balkans to Western China. The book describes precisely the geopolitical network that Gülen has been accused of creating with the CIA after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Henze was also a key CIA figure in the Turkish coup in 1980 that Fuller describes positively in connection with Gülen.
In the US Congressional Record, Fuller is quoted as saying, “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power.”
In this context highly interesting is an interview in 2011, by the Washington Post with Graham Fuller. There Fuller categorically denied charges by former head of Turkish MIT intelligence that Gülen schools across Central Asia served as cover for CIA agents to infiltrate the Muslim republics of former Soviet Union. Fuller stated, “I think the story of 130 CIA agents in Gulen schools in Central Asia is pretty wild.”
Yet Fuller, the former CIA senior official responsible for operations in East Asia and the Middle East wrote a book in 2007 titled The New Turkish Republic: Turkey as a Pivotal State in the Muslim World. At the center of the book was praise for Gülen and his “moderate” Islamic Gülen Movement in Turkey:
“Gülen’s charismatic personality makes him the number one Islamic figure of Turkey. The Gülen Movement has the largest and most powerful infrastructure and financial resources of any movement in the country. . . The movement has also become international by virtue of its far-flung system of schools. . . in more than a dozen countries including the Muslim countries of the former Soviet Union, Russia, France and the United States.”
Then Fuller went on in the 2011 Washington Post interview to deny ever knowing George Fidas, a 31-year-long fellow career CIA senior officer and co-signer with Fuller of the letter asking the US State Department to admit Gülen on a special visa: “I did not recommend him (Gülen-w.e.) for a residence permit or anything else. As for George Fidas, I have never even heard of him and don’t know who he is.” Would so prominent a figure as Graham Fuller, former top CIA official bother to sign an appeal for Fetullah Gülen, a man he claims he met only once, and not examine who else signs? Highly implausible.
More unlikely, as another co-signer of the Gülen US visa appeal was former Istanbul US Ambassador Morton Abramowitz whose career, like that of Fuller, has involved him with both the Afghan Mujahideen networks. In 1986 as Fuller was running oversight of the Afghan Mujahideen from his senior post at CIA, Abramowitz, as Assistant Secretary of State for intelligence and research in the Reagan administration, helped arrange delivery of the Stinger missiles to the Mujahideen. Abramowitz later co-founded the George Soros-funded International Crisis Group that played a key role in justifying the illegal 1999 US bombing of Serbia and later became a director of the CIA-linked National Endowment for Democracy.
Whatever the outcome of the Turkish charges against Graham Fuller and his close former CIA associate, Henri Barkey, for their alleged involvement in the failed July 15, 2016 Turkish coup d’etat, it clearly throws a major spotlight of world attention on the relation between the CIA and the Fetullah Gülen organization. To open that can of worms could help fumigate more than thirty years of covert Central Asia and other CIA operations with Osama bin Laden, opium trade, Kosovo drug mafia, Turkish dirty CIA operations and far more. Little wonder Graham Fuller writes a blog with the pathetic title, “Why did Turkey Issue an Arrest Warrant Against Me?”
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”