Former workers at an Ethiopian “school” operated by the Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO) have blown the whistle on an elaborate money laundering and tax evasion scheme through which FETO used its “educational facilities” in the seventh poorest African state to embezzle funds and withhold taxation to the Ethiopian government as part of a wider scheme to defraud various charitable trusts and private sector benefactors, as well as the public sector in Ethiopia.
While FETO has been largely neutralised in Turkey in the wake of the terror groups failed attempt to destroy the Republic of Turkey in the 2016 July coup, the group continues to prosper abroad. FETO’s method for generating revenue is based largely on the construction and operation of “schools” throughout Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. These indoctrination centres serve not only as facilities to manipulate future generations of local elites with an anti-Turkish mindset in-line with the radical Islamist thinking of the cultish terror group, but moreover these facilities serve as a means of raising millions of dollars which are then used to strengthen the terror group’s international cells. Most deviously, these revenue raising techniques are sold to naive publics throughout the world as charitable endeavours.
At present, Ethiopia is undergoing something of an economic and diplomatic renaissance. The country’s historic rapprochement with Eritrea and new multipolar international partnerships have all led to rapid economic growth in a country that remains incredibly poor by international standards but one which is moving towards a brighter future under the peace and progress minded leadership of new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
However, fragility within Ethiopian society remains and the presence of a terrorist group like FETO clearly exacerbates these tensions that threaten to undermine Premier Abiy’s achievements. A report from the Daily Sabah details the newly uncovered nefarious activities of FETO in Ethiopia in the following way:
“On Friday former employees of Ethiopian FETÖ-linked schools filed a complaint against school administrators and teachers on allegations including the theft of aid money, embezzlement, and tax evasion, said sources, speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
The documents show that the terror group had been operating schools under the Omeriye Educational and Medical Foundation Charitable Trust label, but then in 2009 sold all the schools’ assets to a company called Kaynak.
The schools had been set up using donations meant for charitable purposes.
The sale took place even though under Ethiopian law, the assets of charitable trusts cannot be handed over to a private company.
‘Charitable trust’ language omitted
The school campus grounds in the town of Sebeta in the Oromia state were sold by Erol Dede on behalf of the charity to Murat Yildirim, acting on behalf of Kaynak.
Some 21,000 square meters of land belonging to the charity were sold for 110,000 Turkish liras ($18,160), and a school in Nifas Silk-Lafto was sold for 380,000 Turkish liras ($62,736).
The documents show that the phrase “charitable trust” was omitted from the copy of the sales contract in the local Oromian language, showing the illegality of the transaction”.
Considering the state of the Ethiopian economy in terms of GDP per capita, the amount of money that FETO has laundered through Ethiopia is comparatively substantial. Moreover, money that could have otherwise gone into the coffers of a growing African economy has instead found it way into the hands of terrorists that have sharply focused their long term strategy on exploiting African states for both material and political gain.
At present, FETO run “schools” have appeared throughout the Balkans including in Albania and Bosnia while the network also runs “schools” in parts of Asia that are designed to counter Turkey’s historically good relations with countries as diverse as Pakistan and Malaysia.
Now, FETO’s ambitious programme of constructing “schools” throughout the world’s least politically stable continent, Africa threatens political stability throughout the continent while also posing grave dangers to positive geopolitical partnerships between African and Asian nations. These negative developments have wide ranging implications as FETO’s intensified infiltration of Africa comes at a time when Turkey’s legitimate influence in Africa continues to grow as Ankara signs ever more trade and investment deals across the continent with a project to rebuild the old Ottoman port at Suakin on Sudan’s Red Sea coast being emblematic of this new era in Turko-pan-African relations.
This also comes at a time when the US is attempting to counter China’s increased economic influence in Africa and Russia’s re-assertion of African partnerships previously abandoned at the end of the Cold War. The US is operating a seemingly contradictory strategy in Africa designed to counter the influence of the eastern powers which incorporates a combination of fomenting religious/political extremism and secessionist movements on the one hand while on the other waging a soft-power infowar designed to discredit the achievements that China in particular has made in helping to accelerate the development of African economies.
Geopolitical expert Andrew Korybko summed up America’s new Africa strategy in the following way:
“Short for Africa Command, AFRICOM is “Pentagon-speak” for the US military’s operations all across that landmass, and thousands of American troops are already active in dozens of countries and several combat missions at any given time despite there only officially being one US base on the continent in Djibouti. Along with the Sahel region and especially the portion near the Malian–Nigerien border, the Horn of Africa and specifically Somalia occupy the center of the Pentagon’s focus because of the prevalence of terrorist groups there, though the situation in the latter shouldn’t be completely compared to the former. Daesh openly operates in West Africa, whereas it has yet to officially enter into the Somalian battlespace even though its reported Al Shabaab partner is equally as extreme as they are…
AFRICOM’s flexible use of anti-Silk Road Hybrid War instruments all throughout the continent is why the US has surreptitiously deployed its forces in Somalia and many other countries on the landmass, with these soldiers never actually being used so much for strengthening their host governments as they are for keeping them in a weak and dependent relationship on their American overlords. “Anti-terrorist cooperation” is the cover for this vassal-lord relationship, the narrative of which is exploited through decontextualized “victories” from time to time and an over-exaggeration of any given threat’s relevance to the US’ direct national security interests, as is the case in both instances with Somalia. The American who just sacrificed his life for AFRICOM in Somalia didn’t do it save his homeland from an “imminent terrorist plot” or even to prevent a terrorist victory sometime far off in the future that could set off another Migrant Crisis in Europe, but to give his country better Unconventional Warfare leverage against China in the New Cold War”.
As FETO derives much of its funding from corporations registered and in many cases openly trading in the United States, Washington’s role in utilising FETO as a tool of anti-multipolar hybrid war in Africa should not only be examined but can be safely assumed.
FETO schools and terror cells have a tendency to appear in unstable nations or developing nations where there is either a history of a cultural/political Turkish influence or in countries with a Muslim majority population where Turkish President Erdogan’s popularity looks to enshrine him as a leader of moderate-multipolar Islamic political thought.
Thus, in Muslim majority regions of the Balkans whether in Bosnia, Albania, parts of Serbia or parts of Macedonia, FETO “schools” and terror cells have appeared and continue to expand. Now, FETO is looking to use similar methods in Africa only here the target is not only Turkey whose positive influence in Africa is expanding, but the target is also Turkey’s valued Chinese and Russian partners whose economic activities in the continent have been a motivating factor for the accelerated AFRICOM strategy of manifold hybrid war.
FETO “schools” in Africa represent a direct threat to the relations of Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Senegal, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa with Turkey and its eastern partners. Furthermore, internal situations within multiple Africa could easily lead to multiple civil crises or even all out wars as FETO “educators” continue to influence a rising class of African elites in a negative direction. At a time when Turkey, China, Russia and other Asian states are welcomed as stabilising forces in Africa, FETO’s mission to undermine this progress could lead the terror group to aid secessionist movements throughout Africa – all to the detriment of local infrastructural and human development.
Making matters more worrying, because little is discussed about FETO outside of Turkey, the terror group’s uniquely branded facilities in Africa do not yet carry the stigma of organisations like al-Qaeda, Daesh and Boko Haram who are generally less sophisticated in their propaganda and indoctrination vis-a-vis FETO. This makes FETO’s influence all the more worrying as the US may well be using (if they are not doing so already) the advanced propaganda techniques of FETO to disguise anti-Belt and Road neo-colonial machinations in Africa under the guise of a putatively Islamic educational and investment schemes under the auspices of FETO. To put it bluntly, it is US economic imperialism hiding under the ideology of a crypto-Islamist terror cult.
Because the often turbulent political and economic situation in Africa, FETO has been able to target the business sector, political sector and even future military leaders in a far more effective manner than in the Balkans, where FETO’s role is largely designed to obstruct good relations of individual states with Turkey. By contrast, FETO in Africa is itself acting as a hybrid neo-colonial force whose goals are the penultimate subjugation of entire African nations to FETO’s whims by creating a class of new oligarchs and political leaders whose loyalty is to the cult of Gulen rather than to the fundamental national interests of a given African nation.
This is all the more reason for the existing partnership between Turkey, China, Russia and Pakistan to double-down on providing Africa with a clear alternative to America’s latest proxy group in the continent. While China can provide economic stimulus to African nations, Russia can provide expertise and security assurances and Turkey and Pakistan can provide a combination of both – having modern nations with Islamic characteristics like Turkey and Pakistan increase their influence in Africa can help to do two crucial things.
First of all, in Muslim majority African states or those with a sizeable Muslim population, a Turkish or for that matter a Pakistani presence can help to insure local people that there is no anti-Islamic pseudo-colonial conspiracy afoot. This because crucial as the US has a tendency to cynically manipulate Muslim populations in economically poor nations when they begin to do business with non-Muslim eastern partners including China and Russia. Secondly, by expanding economic relations with African states on a win-win model, the Turkish economy can both help to diversify their existing economic relations all the while becoming integral to the New Silk Road corridors of Africa whose potential still remains largely untapped – the same is true for China’s Russian and Pakistani partners. This would help to expand the geo-economic prestige Turkey and its partners while fighting back against US hybrid warfare techniques currently targeting Ankara and Islamabad by showing the US that it is possible to counter the American weaponisation of religion with a positive socio-economic model extending far beyond one’s traditional sphere of influence.
Ultimately, the only solution to the FETO problem is for the African Union to issue a condemnation of the group and ban its operations from African soil in totality. While FETO’s crimes are still not widely known or even discussed in Africa, if this does not change it may be too late for the African governments that seek peace through internal socio-economic harmony and positive external partnerships. FETO’s role is one of destruction disguised as “charity” and “education”. Until and unless FETO is exposed for what it is, multiple African states and populations will fall victim to this stealthy terror cult.