Turkish Government Opened $100m Mosque in D.C. as Turkish Intel Spied From Mosques Across Europe
Editor's Note: See Patrick Poole's related article, "Mosques Spying for Turkish Intelligence in Germany Prompt Raids, Government Probe"
One year ago today, Turkish President Recep Erdogan was in the Washington, D.C. area to open a new $100 million mosque complex funded by the Turkish government and operated by the Diyanet, Turkey's religious affairs ministry. Needless to say, the opening of the Diyanet complex received international media attention:
But the opening was not without controversy:
But on the one-year anniversary of the opening of the Diyanet Center of America, questions about its true purpose are being raised. There are ongoing investigations by European officials into widespread spying allegations implicating Turkish government-funded Diyanet mosques across the continent. The investigations center on whether the mosques are spying on behalf of the the Turkish intelligence service, the Milli Istihbarat Teskilati (MIT):
Yesterday, I reported here at PJ Media on the investigations in Germany, where authorities have conducted raids targeting Diyanet imams and high-ranking officers of the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), the official arm of the Diyanet in Germany:
In Germany, there are 900 Diyanet mosques and 970 employees serving the three million German nationals of Turkish origin or Turkish citizens living there, representing 70 percent of the German Muslim community.
There, DITIB officials have recently admitted spying on behalf of Turkish intelligence:
And it was reported yesterday that a German government probe of senior DITIB officials had been launched into the spying affair:
That is just the tip of the iceberg, however.
Spying investigations into Diyanet mosques and imams are reportedly ongoing in Belgium, Holland, Austria, France and Switzerland, and some Diyanet officials have returned to Turkey as the government probes in these countries continue:
Three articles this weekend in prominent Belgian newspapers covered the spying controversy there:
The government of Belgium has suspended activity of the Diyanet there and denied visas to some of their imams:
Austrian Green Party politician Peter Pitz has been outspoken about the Diyanet spying affair, claiming the Turkish intelligence espionage extends to four continents:
The spying affair allegations first hit the Austrian media in December:
In February, Peter Pitz revealed the extent of the spying in the Diyanet mosques in Austria:
And the very next day, the head of the Turkish-Islamic Union for Cultural and Social Cooperation in Austria (ATIB) suddenly left the country. ATIB is the organization that operates Austria's 62 Diyanet mosques:
The Turkish intelligence spying extends also to the Netherlands:
Last September, the Dutch Parliament stripped funding for the 140 Diyanet mosques:
In December, it was revealed the Diyanet mosques had been spying on the supporters of Erdogan's Islamist rival, Fethullah Gulen, including the most senior Diyanet official:
Among other issues is that, much like had been seen in Germany (as I reported yesterday), the Diyanet mosques in Holland were responsible for stirring religious and ethnic hatred:
The turnaround by the Dutch government is a marked contrast from March 2016, when the Dutch prime minister was helping open new Diyanet mosques:
Switzerland, too, has opened an inquiry into Turkish intelligence spying through Diyanet mosques there:
The French are also asking questions as they survey the investigations in Germany and their other neighboring countries:
The Turkish government spends more than $2 billion annually supporting Diyanet mosques in 50+ countries around the world.
And Diyanet's $100 million flagship mosque operates right outside Washington, D.C., in Lanham, Maryland:
Given the recent shocking discoveries and admissions of Turkish intelligence using Diyanet mosques to conduct spying in Europe amidst ongoing espionage investigations in a number of countries, questions should be asked about what, if anything, is going on at the Diyanet Center of America.
From its inception, one of the reported prime missions of the Turkish government-funded mosque has been to "abolish Islamophobia":
And, in fact, at the center's opening last year Erdogan raised that very issue:
But the United States has considerably different views on the rights of the press and freedom of religion, as Erdogan found out just days before the mosque's opening when his security forces clashed with protesters outside the Brookings Institution:
And when the head of the Diyanet spoke at the mosque's opening last year, he said that Islam rejects terrorism:
But his Diyanet mosques have been found to be promoting martyrdom to children:
The Turkish government-funded Diyanet has already been seen to involve itself in U.S. domestic politics and foreign policy:
— Diyanet America (@DiyanetAmerica) February 20, 2017
— Diyanet America (@DiyanetAmerica) July 15, 2016
— Diyanet America (@DiyanetAmerica) July 24, 2016
It bears noting that the president of the Diyanet Center of America, Yasar Colak, is a top-ranking official in the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C.:
Given the ongoing Diyanet spying affair in Europe and, even just a year into its existence, the Diyanet Center of America's incursions into U.S. politics, it would seem a counter-intelligence investigation and an examination if the mosque is possibly in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) are warranted.
This is especially true as Democrat members of Congress make appearances at the Turkish government-funded mosque:
— Diyanet America (@DiyanetAmerica) February 23, 2017
Erdogan's regime is becoming increasingly dictatorial, with a national referendum later this month intended to grant Erdogan even greater powers:
Turkish domestic politics is interfering with European stability:
And Erdogan and his subordinates are making threatening statements directed at our European allies:
It seems prudent to examine the nature of the relationship between the U.S. and our NATO ally Turkey, and to ask some difficult questions about what exactly may be going on in Lanham, Maryland, at Erdogan's $100 million mosque.