January 1, 2014

The genius of Turkey's Test Prep Cult

My new Taki's Magazine article points out that the current upheaval in Turkish politics, in which PM Erdogan is being undermined by Imam Gulen of Saylorsburg, PA, stems from Erdogan's recent attack on the Gulen cult's massive chain of test prep centers in Turkey. But that raises the question of why the Gulen cult developed a network of private after-school test prep centers. For an answer, we can turn to a hacked Stratfor memo published by WikiLeaks.

I feel kind of bad for Stratfor since they did the intelligence service hard work of taking a guy out to dinner and plying him with drinks until he felt like explaining what the point of it all is. But it's hard to find other sources that will put simple explanations of the Gulen cult down in writing:
Source was a hardcore Gulenist for 10 years and then defected from the movement when he came to the US several years back. He was recruited when he was a high school student and was raised in the movement to focus on military penetration. Since he knows a great deal about the Gulen and sensitive military matters, the movement has been careful not to alienate him. They have people who check up on him (similar to how I now have people checking up on me) and they have a mutually dependent relationship where they use each other for information They want to be careful that he doesn't write any big criticism against them. The source wants to tell the inside story of Gulen but it's too risky for him. He's quite paranoid when I talk to him, but now that he's 'liberated' from the movement, he drinks wine and can loosen up after a while. ...
Fethullah Gulen is not as active as he used to be in the movement. He gets sick more frequently (he has diabetes). They now have a council of elders, 12 'wise men'. Most of them are in the US, close to Fethullah. They meet regularly and make decisions on the big issues affecting the movement. 
The Gulenist model is obviously very successful. Even US diplomats are gradually becoming more influenced. They say the Kemalist model has been unsuccessful in bringing Turkey closer to the West, but the Gulen through their business and diplomatic efforts have been successful. 
The source has also tried like us to acquire a database of the Gulenist schools. They give him the exact same answer they give us -- that the education effort isn't centralized and so they don't have a good database. Source agrees that that is total BS. The schools are central to the movement's efforts. They keep this list close hold. 
The source described for me how the Gulenist recruitment process works. In Turkey, preparing for your university exam is a huge deal (XXXX has explained this to me in a lot of detail). You essentially have to sign away a couple years of your life to study for this. The Gulen schools are known to provide the best preparation, offer the best resources, etc. A lot of students will attend them, regardless of their political/religious affiliation. Yout start out going a couple times a week, then 3 times a week, then every day of the week by the time you're done. They make it a gradual process and earn your trust. 
The movement will then take the brightest students from the class and will focus on them.

And there you have it: a chain of test prep centers is an ideal method for selecting and recruiting the future cadres of the new, improved Deep State you are constructing to replace your rivals' Deep State which you've been dismantling through show trials and long prison terms. Why? Because owning test prep centers allows you to quantitatively measure the intelligence and effort levels of huge numbers of adolescents, and then pick the most promising for intense mentoring.
THe mentor for each student will change every year. They'll test your loyalty by calling you late in the evening, early on a Saturday morning, etc. and ask you to attend something or perform some task. The task doesn't really matter at the beginning. What they want to see is if you'll obey them and respond to their beck and call. This is all a process to test their loyalty. Then, when they get the results for their university exams, they'll place the top students in the military academy. 
From there, they position themselves to influence the institution. Source estimates that roughly 30% of the military may be influence/linked to Gulen currently. They are trained from a very early age how to interact with military personnel, learn the ranks, act secular, etc. The source was involved in this process. When they are assimilating in the military, they drink, go out with girls, etc., all while remaining loyal to the movement. Once you are placed in a strategic institution, whether it be the military, police judiciary, media firm, etc., you will be handled by what's the equivalent of a case officer. They are trained on how to communicate with their handlers in secret and receive order. Again, this is run very much like a professional intelligence organization. 
In the police force, the Gulenists have a lot more room to maneuver. All of these efforts kicked of in the early 1980s, but in the 1990s is when Gulen really gained traction. In the police, they're not as strict as the military when it comes to background checks. So, for example, it won't matter much if you go to mosque, have a wife who wears the headscarf, etc. The Gulenists are extremely strong in the police and may by now control a majority of the force by the source's estimate. 


Son of Brock Landers said...

In America, we call this the liberal arts university system.

Handle said...

It's genius. It's a good thing America doesn't take its highest scoring and most conscientious students, who go on to compose the upper echelons of every major social institution, and then indoctrinate them into a cult and ...


Anonymous said...

Because owning test prep centers allows you to quantitatively measure the intelligence and effort levels of huge numbers of adolescents, and then pick the most promising for intense mentoring.

Opus Dei is somewhat similar in that it's a Catholic order primarily comprised of lay Catholic that focuses recruiting at elite universities and well educated, high earning professionals.

Alice said...

The PRC has been trying to do the same thing using US schools, though not yet with test prep..

Sometimes using privates, sometimes charters, and sometimes public schools, their goal has been to establish influence.

They began with trying to recruit US schools to offer Chinese language courses funded by the PRC. The goal was PRC teachers and pro-PRC propaganda in the US system, as well as Chinese nationals educated here and friends with US nationals for all future time.

I even have an article about how frustrating they found the system of federalism. They had been pouring money into the fed Dept of Ed, not understanding it affected little to nothing.

Then they moved in to individual schools in individual states. They often back Chinese immersion charter schools. A perfect way to cull influence and to recruit children to being your agents. Imagine: US parents send their children to a school where they have absolutely no idea what their children are taught, with no way to ever find out.

And they work hard to get Chinese nationals in here to US high schools. Main reason is the language barrier: much as US universities now depend on Chinese students paying full freight, the level of corruption in admissions had begun making US universities unable to turn a blind eye to Chinese students who couldn't speak a word of English (despite perfect transcripts and test scores.) But sending them to US high schools makes them desirable, and again, cements friendships they can exploit forever after.

Even more boldly, I know of one school in CO that was a private school dependent on Chinese foreign students, but was going under. The PRC bought the school themselves, and then paid the US students to attend.

Anonymous said...

Here's some background on Opus Dei's elite recruiting as well as establishment of schools around the world, many of which keep their Opus Dei affiliation obscured similar to the Gulenists:


"Far from Brown's fictional world, Opus Dei says its image should be that of MBAs, not the book's murderous monk. The 78-year-old group of priests and laypeople has 84,000 members in more than five dozen countries and counts top executives, political leaders in Latin America and a U.K. cabinet official in its ranks. Opus Dei's emphasis on recruiting and training businesspeople sets it apart from other Roman Catholic groups.

``Opus Dei is unique,'' says Keith Pecklers, a Jesuit priest and professor of theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. ``Their approach is finding God in daily life as a Christian, and a big part of that is the business world.''

Opus Dei is seeking more high-powered members by funding pizza parties and seminars on embryonic research, physician-assisted suicide and evolution near U.S. Ivy League campuses. And it's targeting lawyers and bankers through monthly meetings at St. Mary Moorfields church in the City of London financial district."

"Some members, such as Eduardo Guilisasti, chief executive officer of Santiago-based Vina Concha y Toro SA, Latin America's biggest winery, advance the effort by giving their entire paycheck to help run Opus Dei's more than 100 technical and management schools from Spain to Mexico, to Vietnam, Guilisasti says."

"Not everyone accepts that Opus Dei's goal is purely spiritual. Dianne DiNicola says the group is out to recruit future executives, separate them from their families and then take their money.

``They proselytize educated, bright people -- you're talking doctors, lawyers, corporate types,'' says DiNicola, executive director of the Opus Dei Awareness Network in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The group publicizes Opus Dei's practices, which it says restrict members' personal freedoms.

DiNicola, 63, founded ODAN after her daughter, Tammy, joined and then quit Opus Dei when she was a student at Boston College.

``They get these subtle controls in places where it counts,'' DiNicola says. Opus Dei recruits people who have a potential to succeed professionally, both for their influence and their money, DiNicola says, based in part on her daughter's experience as a numerary, a type of member who is celibate and lives in Opus Dei residences."

"Opus Dei, which means ``the work of God'' in Latin, is expanding from strongholds in South America, Italy and Spain to the English-speaking world. U.K. Education Secretary Ruth Kelly is an Opus Dei supernumerary, says Andrew Soane, a chartered accountant and a London-based member of Opus Dei's U.K. regional council, which runs the group's affairs there. Former Bank of England economist Kelly, 38, was elected to Parliament in 1997. Opus Dei is reaching out to City of London bankers and lawyers, Soane says.

In the U.S., Opus Dei completed its 17-story, $69 million Manhattan headquarters at Lexington Avenue and 34th Street in 2001, a bricks-and-mortar announcement that the group had arrived in the world's financial capital.

To target the nation's brightest students, Opus Dei runs off-campus housing and centers around Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island; and Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey."

"Recruiting on campuses and running business schools increase the odds that Opus Dei will have company executives as members, Opus Dei Chief Financial Officer Pablo Elton says.

``If we're working with students, 30 years later they'll be CEOs,'' he says."

Alice said...

I think all of these links are dead, but google or the wayback machine may be able to verify. Here is the prc complaining about teir inabikity to work with the U system.

Hanban--PRC's official Chinese language ministry

Nature and Mission of Hanban
Hanban is the executive body of the Chinese Language Council International, a non-governmental and non-profit organization affiliated to the Ministry of Education of China.
Hanban is committed to making the Chinese language and culture teaching resources and services available to the world, to meeting the demands of overseas Chinese learners to the utmost, to contributing to the formation of a world of cultural diversity and harmony.

Hanban pays the "guest teachers" who come to the US for 2 years. http://www.aasa.org/publications/content.cfm?ItemNumber=9731

Hanban, a government agency working to spread Chinese around the world, has partnered with the College Board and several states to send volunteer teachers to the United States. The Chinese government pays part or all of the teacher’s salary while the school district pays for the teacher to live with a host family and handles visa arrangements and teacher certification. Another Hanban initiative is the establishment of Confucius Institutes in more than 100 countries.


The trouble with the US:
1. Lack of national coordination of efforts. Without serious and systematic attention to the next phase of growth, there is a danger that these programs could fail to thrive. We need to move from this “let many flowers bloom” phase of disconnected initiatives and lack of fundamental infrastructure to the development of language learning systems that will give students and schools the incentive and opportunity to make the continuum of proficiency and literacy development a reality.

By language learning systems, we mean the sustainable development of the supply and demand of students, teachers, curriculum, materials, assessment, and the training, funding, and support needed for individual language proficiency and societal language education capacity. We must address the issues of over supply of certain components, the gaps that remain unfilled, and the connectedness of learning systems that allow synergy to flow and resources to be leveraged.

An adequate infrastructure is essential for any field but especially for the introduction of a world language that is categorized by the Foreign Service Institute of the State Department as a Category Three language (meaning that it takes 2,200 hours to reach the same proficiency as 575-600 hours of instruction in Category One languages such as French or Spanish). This National Chinese Language Conference marks the first time all key stakeholders in the Chinese field have come together to explore further collaboration to build the infrastructure of the field.


Anonymous said...

Seymour Hersh claimed that there is a network of Opus Dei/Knights of Malta Catholics in the US military:


"That's an attitude that pervades, I'm here to say, a large percentage of the Joint Special Operations Command."

He then alleged that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed JSOC before briefly becoming the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and his successor, Vice Adm. William McRaven, as well as many within JSOC, "are all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta."

Hersh may have been referring to the Sovereign Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic organization commited to "defence of the Faith and assistance to the poor and the suffering," according to its website.

"Many of them are members of Opus Dei," Hersh continued. "They do see what they're doing -- and this is not an atypical attitude among some military -- it's a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They're protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function."

"They have little insignias, these coins they pass among each other, which are crusader coins," he continued. "They have insignia that reflect the whole notion that this is a culture war. … Right now, there’s a tremendous, tremendous amount of anti-Muslim feeling in the military community." "

gcochran said...

Stratfor is to an empty suit as an empty suit is to Raymond Spruance.

Anonymous said...

Steve, like, dude, get with The Movement (hizmetnews.com).

Dave Pinsen said...

It could be worse. I mean, Ba'ath-type parties in Muslim countries stocked state institutions with their cadres did they make similar efforts to identify smart recruits?

Anonymous said...

This Gulen guy sure gets good press from the oligarch owned US media – very unusual for a Muslim – who’s he working for?


A ME conspiracy maybe – could it be – whoever heard of such a thing?

Stirner said...

So the master plan for the rightist march through the instutions:

1) Give Education Realist 1 mil in seed capital.

2) Create a test prep franchise to secretly test, recruit, and indoctrinate a new right elite.

3) Wait patiently, and then bring the Restoration.

Better than waiting for the underpants gnomes, for sure.

Whiskey said...

Hersh is an idiot. Unit and command coins have a long history in the US Military, Challenge Coins are even given out by Presidents and Congress. Hersh is exhibit A on what's wrong with "Journalism" covering the military today. He never served. Has no concept of what the military does, except "its evil because hugs and kisses are what solves problems" and no interest in the history and traditions and culture of the military branches which are unique, sometimes stupid, but never in the unitary way he sees them. For example, the Army and Air Force have been fighting since the formation of the Air Force over who gets what air assets. Often their most deadly enemies are service branch rivals.

The senior commands in the services are mostly Protestants. What's notable is who is not in the military: Jews who avoid it like the plague. Also Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford people. The military is either third-fourth generation guys or Southern/Midwestern/Western middle to lower middle class Whites in terms of officer corps and much of th enlisted base particularly combat troops. The Catholic base in the military tends to be non-coms who are Hispanic. You won't find Staff Sergeant Ortega from San Bernadino among Opus Dei, his family came up poor and he finds the Marines a good deal even with combat.

Steve Sailer said...

It's the kind of thing that should be discussed.

Like I've said, this kind of thing isn't necessarily hugely expensive by the standards of, say, what conservative billionaires give to their favorite college football teams.

Whiskey said...

Let me add the cynical side of me says that the Gulenist/Erdogan split is all about ... gasp ... THE MONEY!

Erdogan has been bulldozing everything that doesn't move and a few that do, to pour concrete over everything and ugly it up, raking in billions for him and his cronies in the typical mafia style skim operation in construction. My guess is the money was supposed to be shared with the Gulenists but wasn't. Hence the police investigation into the skimming.

Or put it this way, this time Ernst Roehm struck first. Before the Night of the Long Knives.

I suppose the difference is, the Gulenists are defacto not the operation of one (fairly sick if rumors are true) man, like Erdogan, but an oligarchy and thus more conservative in rolling the dice in big gambles and aggressive moves to neighbors. It is generally your Kaisers, your Saddams, your Kims, your Castros, your absolute monarchs in one form or another that decide, hey invade a neighbor, what could go wrong when its obvious there is disaster lurking about.

Erdogan has big plans (and is reputedly suffering from cancer) so Turkey and its neighbors would likely be better off with an oligarchy than a sole tyrant. Not that there is much to choose otherwise.

Simon in London said...

Fascinating info. One thing it shows is that successfully taking over a major country is a lot of hard work! Like the Mohammed/Mao three-stage system for insurgency war, it's not particularly complicated, but it requires dedication and long-term commitment.

BTW I do admissions for my course, and Turkish students' SAT-type grades are usually extremely low - reference letters will often refer to this and ask me to give students a chance. I've got used to this and know to take it into account; the students are usually better than the grades indicate. I wonder if this very harsh grading is significant; it gives a lot of space for improvement via these test prep centres (honest or not). In countries where grades are high and many people get As then it might be easier to do well without such test prep.

Anonymous said...

So what's the connection with common core? Which sounds like a cult.

Black Sea said...

Hi Steve,

Just as further fodder for your analysis, PM Erdoğan is the 10th wealthiest head of state in the world. However, most of the people ahead of him are monarchs who started out with enormous wealth. Erdoğan, just a working class boy from a "gritty"neighborhood, is now worth aeround 2 billion dollars, not counting any property or material possessions.

I think Jay Z and 50 Cent could learn a thing or two from this guy.


Jill said...

We now have something similar to the Gulenist movement in America...

?An education technology conference this week in Austin, Texas, will clang with bells and whistles as startups eagerly show off their latest wares.
But the most influential new product may be the least flashy: a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school.
In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school – even homework completion.
Local education officials retain legal control over their students’ information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services.
The database is a joint project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided most of the funding, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and school officials from several states. Amplify Education, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, built the infrastructure over the past 18 months. When it was ready, the Gates Foundation turned the database over to a newly created nonprofit, inBloom Inc, which will run it."


Cail Corishev said...

"They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They're protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function."

Except that everything we've done militarily in that part of the world for at least a couple decades now has benefited Muslims and harmed Christians. If they're Crusaders, they're the crappiest Crusaders ever, and that's saying something.

Anonymous said...

To target the nation's brightest students, Opus Dei runs off-campus housing and centers around Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island; and Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey."

Opus Dei also has student residences and centers near Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Northwestern, Illinois-Champaign-Urbana, Rice, Northwestern, Stanford, and elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Went to Harvard about 30 years ago. Other students who were Opus Dei members sought to recruit me, but I was too lazy to participate.

Luke Lea said...

Sounds Leninist.