The Genius Of Turkey's Test Prep Cult

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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.