Despite its ongoing investigation into charter schools linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) attended a panel organized by a university linked to the terrorist group, raising questions over the U.S. stance against FETÖ activities.
According to the report by the Washington Bureau Chief for Anadolu Agency (AA), North American University, one of two FETÖ affiliated universities in the U.S., organized a panel called FBI History and Current Events. FBI Public Affairs Officer Connor Hagan will be the guest speaker at the conference, which will be held March 20.
The panel was expected to be part of North American University's Presidential Lecture Series to "learn about the history of the FBI and the numerous threats and challenges the Bureau faces today with ensuring the safety of the country," according to the event brochure.
The FBI already conducted an investigation into charter schools linked to the terrorist group, although it was quiet about the progress of investigations that focused on the shady business practices of these schools. It also cooperated with Turkish authorities in an investigation into alleged money laundering schemes by the terrorist group.
The U.S. is one of the Western countries where FETÖ, accused of carrying out the July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey through its infiltrators in the military, remains active. It is home to a large community of Gülenists, including group leader Fetullah Gülen. FETÖ operates 140 charter schools in 26 states in the U.S. The schools in the U.S., some of which have changed names over time, were opened in the late 1990s and in the beginning of the 2000s. Around 60,000 students attend the schools annually. These FETÖ schools are usually gathered under umbrella organizations and managed through foundations. As an example, 46 schools are named "Harmony" in Texas, 30 schools named "Concept" in and around Ohio, while some others are called "Magnolia."
Gülen, who arrived in the United States in 1999, currently lives in a luxurious retreat in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, in self-imposed exile. He never leaves the well-guarded compound but often gives interviews to foreign media. Ankara formally requested Gülen's extradition on July 19, 2016, and has been pressing the U.S. ever since, sending hundreds of folders full of evidence implicating Gülen and FETÖ in the coup attempt. The issue has been raised in bilateral meetings between Turkish and American officials in phone calls, letters and other exchanges.