Authored by: Dr. Omar Farouk
Translated by: Houssem Jebali
Turkey has beenvirtuallyworking to increase its influence in Europe through a number of institutions posing asrelief, religious and humanitarian organizations. They target Arab, Turkish and Muslim communities to be exploited in the establishment of the “ New Ottoman State”, Erdogan’s project to control Muslims in western countries.
Most of the Turkish Institutions employed as a façade to pass the “New Ottoman Caliphate” project converge with the orientations and objectives of political Islam currents, namely the Muslim Brotherhood and its international organization. They share the same plan to dominate the western states and disseminate Said Kotb and Hassan Al Banna’s literature through preaching, political, economic and social tools aiming to change the cultural and intellectual identity of western societies by creating parallel communities in Europe.
Among the most prominent institutions which played a key role in disseminating extremist intellectual orientations is the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs, known by its Turkish abbreviationDIYANET, established by Mustapha Kemal Ataturk in March 1924 by virtue of law number 429 to run religious affairs within Turkey. DIYANET runs 90 thousand mosques in Istanbul and more than 2000mosques across 38 European countries.
In light of the Justice and Development Party’s ( AKP) dominance of power in Turkey, and its ambitions to penetrate western societies which complies with the international organization’s plans, DIYANET has become one of the many tools used topenetrate other countries using 145.000 employees; 120.000 Imams, 40.000 Quran teachers, 3000 preachers and 1250 clerics (Muftis). In 2015 DIYANET’s budget increased 4 folds to reach $2 billion a year, with approximately 40% increase.
Several western official reports expressed concerns over the Turkish penetration of Europe, maintaining that the DIYANET-ran mosques have become intelligence and political centers working to attract and recruit Arab and Muslim communities in Europe, America. and Asia to work for political Islam institutions. Those recruited become known as” Pulpit spies”.
DIYANET’s “Turkish imams” predominantly control the preaching activities in Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and Belgium, and the institution’s suspicious files are ran by the Turkish intelligence, according to a study conducted by“ Investigative Journal” entitled “DIYANET gathers intelligence through Imams across 38 countries”. Imams, the Journal also revealed, play a role in recruiting young men and in blocking the way in front of the institutions owned by Fethullah Gulen, the Turkish preacher and sworn enemy to the current Turkish regime.
In mid 2018, the German and French intelligence agencies warned that Turkish entities are going too far with their suspicious activities within the western states. They also warned that the members of Arab and Muslim communities in the west have become Turkish agents. In September 2019, Austria shuttered a number of DIYANET-ran mosques who’s in the words of the then Austrian parliament “are not functioning as houses of worship but rather become an extension of the Turkish president’s and the AKP policies”.
The second Turkish entity involved in penetrating the western countries is the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB). DITIB was established in 1984 inCologneprovince and comprises 930 associations; supervises 900 mosques across 16 German states and dispatches Imams and religious education teachers to mosques in Germany. It also controls 70% of Muslims living in Germany.
In April 4, 2017 the German intelligence conducted an investigation on Turkey’s employment of DITIB in Germany to perform activities that are malicious to the German national security. According to “Conversation academy”, the report indicated that ever since taking office, Erdogan has worked in collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood group and Qatar to turn mosques in Europe into propaganda machines to promote for the “ New Ottoman State”; and that there has been a growing concern among decision making circles in the west over Ankara’s dominance of mosques and Islamic associations and the involvement of some of them in financing and disseminating radicalization and terrorism.
In May 2020, The German TV showed a documentary entitled “This ishow Erdogan’s critics are being spied on in Germany”. The documentary shed light on DITIB’s transformation into a Turkish intelligence tool performing political roles in support of extremist political Islam parties under the guise of serving Arab and Muslim communities.
The third entity playing a suspicious role in Europe and Asia is The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency ( TIKA), established in 1992 under the banner of helping Soviet republics overcome their internal crisis. With the AKP coming tooffice,TIKA become a nationalistic and Muslim Brotherhood- oriented institution adopting Erdogan’s vision in establishing the “New Ottoman State” and exploiting the many Turkish institutions in stretching Turkey’s clout East and West.
To achieve his expansionist ambitions, Erdogan sought to increase Turkey’s educational and cultural activities in Africa and the West using TIKA as a tool to recruit young men and attract them tohis “New Ottoman State” project which intersects with the political Islam currents’ project:“the Caliphate”,as he’s delusional that Turkey represents the official guardian of Muslims around the world.
Hence, the number of bureaus representing TIKA has doubled from 12 in 2002 to 25 in 2011, then to 56 bureaus in 59 countries in 2014 with a total worth of assistance that rose from $85 million in 2002 to $3 billion aiming to reach 140 countries in 5 continents.
In addition to financing mosques and supporting fundamentalist association’s activities, TIKA had played multiple roles especially in media and military trainings. It has been considered as a branch of the Turkish intelligence apparatus since Hakan Vidan chaired the institution before he was appointed as president of the Turkish intelligence.
TIKA had organized trainings for security officers in a number of countries including Azerbaijan, Palestine, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, the Black Country, Uzbekistan, Magnolia, Tunisia, Moldova and Afghanistan in partnership with the Turkish Gendarmerie General Command, as well as trainingsfor military editors in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Georgia, Syria, Myanmar, Nigeria, Algeria, Palestine, Jordan, the Philippines, Pakistan and Azerbaijan in partnership with Anadolu Agency and the Police Academy.
The fourth Turkish institution employed by Erdogan to control the west is the “Grey Wolves” organization whose ideology and intellectual methodology is based onallegiance to the Turkish fundamental nationalism, combining ethnic supremacy and religious zeal and seeking to bring back the glories of the Ottoman Caliphate or the Turkish hegemony over the Arab and western worlds within the framework of political pragmatism that is influencingErdogan and his style in making “suspicious alliances” based on mutual interests.
The alliance of Erdogan with the “Grey Wolves” organization, whose ideology intersects with that of the Ottoman Caliphate state and its absolute belief in employing violence, gave rise to what has become known as“Erdogan militias”.
The “Grey Wolves” organization has become a tool of the Turkish intelligence to penetrate the EU countries through controlling the Turkish communities and the rest of Arab and Muslim communities, inaddition to supporting Muslim brotherhood organizations in Europe which receive direct financing from Turkey and Qatar.
The organization was formed in the late 60s by Alp Arslan, a former Colonel in the Turkish army and one of the orchestrators of the 1960 coup. It was intended to be an armed wing for the “National Movement Party” which takes the picture of a wolf head as an emblem.
The “Grey Wolves” organization has intelligence networks all throughout Europe. These networks are mainly concentrated around mosques and targetpeople with nationalist views. There are about 180 thousand clandestine members in Germany. The organization also owns 170 associations and institutions within German provinces. They represent a security threat, which makes it the biggest clandestine organization in the country. According to security studies conducted by European research centers. The organization is also present in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and Sweden.
The fifth organization Erdogan uses to implement the “New Ottoman State” project is the “Milli Görüş” movement which is considered as the biggest fundamentalist organization in the west in terms of the number of its members. According to 2005 statistics, the movement announced that it had 87 thousand members all throughout Europe, 50 thousand of which are in Germany. It’s headquartered in Kirn, North Ryan province and has activities in almost all European countries as well as Australia, Canada and the United States.
Milli Görüş which translates “the national vision”, or the Turkish Diaspora Organizations in Europe, was formed in 1969 by the former Turkish Prime Minister, Najmeddine Erbakan. Its ideology matches that of Said Kotb and Abu Al-Ala Almawdudi. It seeks to eradicate Kemal Ataturk’s secularist regime inmodern Turkey and to establish the so called “Islamic Caliphate State” which fell in 1924.
Milli Görüş has turned into an extension of the “Islamist National Regime” party in Europe, established by Erbakan as the first Islamist partyin Turkeysince the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate. Actually, the European arena created a favorable condition for the party to finance and recruit individuals. It also provided a space for practicing the party’s activities away from the legal and security censorship in Turkey. After Erdogan came to power, the movement supported the “New Ottoman State” project.
Since 2002, the “Justice and Development” government has worked to create a “sacred alliance” between the “Turkish Islamic Union” and the “Milli Görüş movement” to pose its total control over the religious, preaching, and educational institutions all across the European continent.
The movement runs about 300 mosques and 270 fundamentalist associations in France, 400 fundamentalist associations and 147 mosques in Belgium, and has about 15 thousand Imams, teachers and employees. The German intelligence described the movement as an “extremist organization”. It comprises several other German organizations such as the “Islamic Associations Union” in Berlin, the “Islamic Associations Union” in Lower Saxony, the“Islamic Associations Union” in Bremen and the “Islamic Associations Union” in Westphalia.
Currently, Feteh Sarikar chairs the movement branch in France. He was elected in early 2020 for a 6-year mandate as Secretary general of the French Council of the Muslim Faith,the supreme Muslims’ representative commission in France. He also occupies the position of the Chairman of the Islamic Religious Education in Europe which includes 17 schools and institutes in France. In addition to its religious and educational network, the movement has a network of commercial and economic projects.