Turkish, German, US spy agencies in both cooperation, rivalry: Author

Turkish, German, US spy agencies in both cooperation, rivalry: Author

“The Book of Spying for the Curious,” written by seasoned journalist Murat Yetkin, provides a lot of information on espionage and intelligence issues. But what makes it interesting is how it shows the importance in connecting the dots.

If it were to be translated, I am sure it will be highly interesting for non-Turkish readers as well.

Following the publication on Nov. 26 of the main part, here are some excerpts from the one-hour-long interview with Yetkin.

The book quotes U.S. and Turkish officials who claim a Turkish-Islamic synthesis is an American project. There is other information on how religion is used by intelligence organizations. At a time when the Turkish Directorate for Religious Affairs (Diyanet) — an official institution of the secular republic — could not get a green light from Germany, the Süleymancıs (a branch of the Naqhshbandi brotherhood) was authorized by the Germans in 1974 to provide religious education to Turkish migrant workers. What does this tell us in terms of the present time?

This group, the Süleymancıs, got in touch directly with the German intelligence BND and the CIA (thanks to the very close relations in the 1950’s between the two) via the main imam of the Nazi army and vice versa. When the number of Turks living in Germany reached millions, Diyanet wanted to open a representation. While Germans said “no” to Diyanet, they let operate a brotherhood which was banned in Turkey.

Why?

Because it has links which were forged since the Nazi era.

And how did they want to use it?

They want to reach out to Muslim and Turkish workers through religious officials under their control, instead of religious officials assigned by Turkish governments.

And you also wrote that the first contention between the Germans and the Americans after WWII broke out on who will maintain full control over the Muslim Turkish-origin people against the Soviets.

There is that dimension, too. Here is the contradiction: America, Germany, and Turkey; they are in constant collaboration and competition.

There are currently several religious groups in Germany and, while on the one hand, there are complaints about Diyanet’s activities...

They let FETÖ…

And then Germans complain about Islam and radicalism. Do you think they reap what they sow?

Everybody sows something and everybody reaps something. Who promoted FETÖ to the West? Turkey. And now it tries to get it back. It is not good to play with religion. We have seen it: Radical Islamist groups were equipped with arms against the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. Taliban, Al Qaida, and ISIL, all have come out from there. No one learns lessons because it suits their interests.

What do you see when you look at FETÖ?

I say this without evidence but the story of Frankenstein can come to mind.

What we can say is this: [It is written in the book] There is a concrete example. A man called Bekir Berk. He is a lawyer. When the McCarthy frenzy started in the 1950’s, in the years when associations to fight communisms were set up, similar associations to fight communism were established in Turkey too. Some pan-Turkist, pan-Islamist associations were founded too. Berk is among the founding members of almost all of them. He is at the same time the lawyer of the Said Nursi brotherhood.

Following the March 1971 military coup, police raided a house on claims of radical religious activities. Berk, who is in that house, and Fetullah Gülen are arrested and brought to court.

Gülen is also the founder of the Erzurum Association of the Fight against Communism.

A: We know which direction Gülen continued toward. After Berk gets released, he goes to Saudi Arabia and heads the Turkish broadcasting department of a radio in Jeddah until the late 1980’s. In other words, he is the man of the Saudi government. Now are we to ignore these links? Saudi Arabia is a country where Gülen never set up a school, never set foot in.

Think about the very close relationship between America and Saudi Arabia. There are very complex relationships and the more we come out with names and dates, the better we see the whole picture. But do we have the whole picture? Not yet, but we are opening the door and some things start spilling out.

Barçın Yinanç, Murat Yetkin, book review, Interview