Emails Show Ties Between Hillary Clinton And Followers Of Controversial Turkish Cleric
Two Turkish businessmen who have donated to the Clinton Foundation and are part of a network of think tanks and businesses supporting an Islamic cleric being sought for extradition by Turkey’s president reached out to Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin for favors in 2009, newly released emails show.
The emails, which were released by the watchdog group Judicial Watch on Monday, show that Abedin moved to help the men, Gokhan Ozkok and Recep Ozkan.
Other emails released on Tuesday by another watchdog group, Citizens United, show that both Ozkok and Ozkan were on the guest list for a June 12, 2012 Clinton Foundation dinner held at then-Sec. of State Clinton’s home.
Both men are top lieutenants of Fethullah Gulen, a 75-year-old cleric who lives in self-exile in the mountains of Pennsylvania.
In one May 2009 email provided to Judicial Watch, Ozkok, who was at that time the president of the Gulen-connected Turkish American Business Council, praised Clinton in an email to Abedin for “converting” Turkish Americans to the Democratic party.
“The Turkish American community has been believing in the friendship of Secretary Clinton since the day we met her first,” Ozkok wrote to Abedin on May 22, 2009.
“Secretary Clinton is also the [b]eginning of and the reason for our success in ‘converting’ the Turkish American community and its leaders to the Democratic Party and its values and leadership,” he continued.
In another, Ozkok extended get well wishes to Clinton on behalf of Gulen.
“I would like also to convey the prayers of Mr. Gulen,” Ozkok wrote. Abedin responded saying she would pass the message along.
The emails shed more light on Clinton and Co.’s ties to the Gulen movement, also known as Hizmet.
The Gulen network operates hundreds of charter schools in the U.S. as well as dozens of think tanks promoting Gulen’s teachings. The network’s charter schools have drawn scrutiny in the U.S. over alleged crony construction deals and visa violations.
But Hizmet is at the center of even more controversy in Turkey, one which threatens to set off a major diplomatic standoff between the U.S. and the Islamic republic.
Turkey’s president Recep Tayipp Erdogan blames Gulen for masterminding last month’s failed coup there. He has asked the State Department to extradite Gulen, and federal agents are reportedly in Turkey investigating Erdogan’s claims.
The standoff raises questions over whether Clinton’s ties to Gulen network leaders will impact U.S.-Turkey relations should she be elected president.
But one thing is clear: Gulen’s U.S.-based lieutenants have devoted ample time and money to gaining favor with the Clinton network. (RELATED: Followers Of Mysterious Islamic Cleric Have Donated Heavily To Clinton)
As The Daily Caller reported last year, Ozkok, Ozkan and several other Gulen supporters have contributed heavily to Clinton’s presidential campaigns. Ozkok and Ozkan are listed as national finance co-chairs of Ready PAC, the super PAC formed in 2014 to support Clinton.
Ozkok has given between $25,000 and $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation. He was also listed on the Turkish Cultural Center’s website as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. It is unclear when Ozkan, the former president of the Gulen-linked Turkish Cultural Center, gave his donation of between $500,000 and $1,000,000 to the Clinton Foundation. He was listed on the Clinton Foundation’s website as having donated an undisclosed sum last year.
They were both invited to the June 2012 Clinton Foundation dinner, which was attended by a slew of Democratic party donors, lobbyists and government officials.
As with many other Clinton Foundation and Clinton campaign contributors, Ozkan’s and Ozkok’s giving appears to have allowed them access to Clinton through Abedin.
Both Ozkan and Ozkok emailed Abedin in June 2009 to help arrange a meeting between Clinton and one of their allies, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, then the secretary-general for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
“We need your support,” Ozkan wrote to Abedin on June 23, 2009. He also informed Abedin that Ihsanoglu is “a very close friend of your parents.”
Abedin’s father, Syed, published the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. Huma Abedin was listed as an assistant editor at the journal between 1996 and 2008. During that time it published articles blaming the U.S. for the 9/11 attacks and arguing against women’s rights. Abedin’s mother, Saleha, is a professor in Saudi Arabia and serves as editor-in-chief for the journal.
Because Clinton was ailing from a fall she suffered around that time, Abedin helped set up a phone call between her boss and Ihsanoglu, who ran against Erdogan for president in 2014.
The Turkish government has not accused Ozkok and Ozkan of being coup organizers, but the Erdogan regime is reportedly searching for at least one Clinton-supporting Gulenist.
USA Today reported on Tuesday that a Ready PAC donor named Adil Oksuz is the subject of a manhunt in Turkey. Erdogan accuses the Istanbul-based professor of helping mastermind the coup there.
Oksuz donated $5,000 to Ready PAC on June 27, 2014, the same day that Ozkok and Ozkan made their contributions to that political committee.
TheDC reported last month that the Gulen network has developed a relationship with the Clinton network in another way. The Alliance for Shared Values recently hired the Podesta Group to lobby on its behalf. The Alliance for Shared Values issued statements on Gulen’s behalf in the aftermath of the failed coup. The Podesta Group was co-founded by Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta and his brother, Tony Podesta, a major Clinton campaign bundler. (RELATED: New Ties Emerge Between Clinton And Mysterious Islamic Cleric)