Police called to Fethullah Gülen’s US compound after shot fired

US police were called to the compound of Fethullah Gülen, the US-based Turkish Muslim scholar, in rural Pennsylvania on Wednesday after a guard fired a shot at a suspected armed intruder.

The security guard fired the warning shot as the person tried to enter the compound’s gates, and the intruder fled, the spokesman said. There are no known injuries or arrests, Alp Aslandoğan, Gülen’s media adviser, told Reuters, saying the incident was over.

Several Pennsylvania State Police cars were seen around the gated compound and retreat in Saylorsburg in the Pocono Mountains, according to photographs shared online by local news reporters.

Police, who left the scene an hour or two later, did not respond to requests for comment. A local TV station reported that the police were still searching for the suspected intruder.

“The attempted armed entry comes on the heels of Turkish presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın speaking recently that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization would launch overseas ‘operations’ against supporters of Mr. Gülen. And it is well-known that the Turkish government under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has devised kidnapping plots against Mr. Gülen, as well as executed successful kidnappings of his supporters around the world,” the New York-based Gülen-affiliated association Alliance for Shared Values (AfSV) said in a statement.

Turkey’s presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın said during a press conference on Sept. 21, 2018, that the Turkish government would continue its global manhunt for followers of the Gülen movement, stating that the operation could extend to the United States as well.

“Our relevant units and institutions will continue their operations in the countries in which FETÖ operates whether it be the US or some other country. Rest assured that they will feel Turkey breathing down their necks. I can’t share any details, but anything can happen anytime, anywhere. Mr. President has given very clear instructions on this issue. Our relevant units are working very professionally. Operations similar to the one conducted in Kosovo can be carried out in other countries. Everyone should know that Turkey will not allow FETÖ to breathe a sigh of relief.”

“FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to refer to the Gülen movement.

US media last year reported that Gülen, the movement’s leader who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, was part of a potential bargain between former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and top Turkish officials.

An alleged plan that involved Flynn forcibly removing Gülen in return for millions of dollars is being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, The Wall Street Journal reported on Nov. 10, 2017.

Michael Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., were to be paid as much as $15 million to hand Gülen over to the Turkish government under the alleged proposal, according to people with knowledge of discussions Flynn had with Turkish representatives during a reported meeting in December at the 21 Club in New York City.

The alleged meeting to discuss the kidnapping of Gülen followed another meeting in September in New York between Flynn and Berat Albayrak, then-energy minister of Turkey and President Erdoğan’s son-in-law, and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, with the attendance of former CIA director James Woolsey, who described the proposal to The Wall Street Journal as “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away.”

The written statement by AfSV on a gunman outside Chestnut Retreat Center in Saylorsburg is as follows:

“At around 8:30 am this morning (Oct. 3), an unknown man, who appeared to be armed, attempted to enter the retreat center in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, that has been the longtime home of Fethullah Gulen. A guard reacted to the situation with a warning shot in the air and the person fled. Police are searching for the person at this time. No injuries were reported, and the immediate threat appears to be over. Retreat center staff is fully cooperating with the state police to investigate the incident. All further questions about the incident should be directed to the state police who responded.

The attempted armed entry comes on the heels of Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin speaking recently that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization would launch overseas “operations” against supporters of Mr. Gulen. And it is well-known that the Turkish government under Recep Tayyip Erdogan has devised kidnapping plots against Mr. Gulen, as well as executed successful kidnappings of his supporters around the world.

We urge the US authorities to continue to hold Turkey accountable for its actions and threats against innocent people both here in the United States and abroad.”

The Turkish government has launched both a domestic and a global crackdown against the Gülen movement. More than 100 Gülen-linked Turkish nationals were brought back to Turkey through intelligence service operations and with the cooperation of other countries, including Moldova, Kosovo, Pakistan, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Gabon and Myanmar.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. On December 13, 2017, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018, that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016, and April 11, 2018, over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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