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Erdogan chief adviser suggests 'deep connection' between Gulen and 9/11

Yigit Bulut says US public needs to examine evidence and ask itself if Fethullah Gulen had a 'deep connection' to the 9/11 attacks
Bulut suggests the US could be harbouring an orchestrator of the 9/11 attacks (AA)

A chief adviser to the Turkish president has raised the question of the possible involvement of "terrorist" supporters of Fethullah Gulen in the 11 September attacks in the United States.

Writing in his weekly column for the pro-government Star newspaper, Yigit Bulut suggests that the influence of the movement of US-based cleric Gulen was so widespread that there could have been a "deep connection" with the 9/11 attackers.

Pointing out that the Gulen movement had more than 230 schools in the US and Americans who graduate from them take up various jobs, including in the military, Bulut had advice for the American public:

“Let’s go back and ask: ‘Can there be a deep connection between the FETO terrorist network and 11 September?' What do you say, is it possible?” Bulut inquired, using the name used by the Turkish government to designate Gulen's movement.

“Now I ask those among the American public who are our friends and brothers: What if one of the organisations behind 11 September is still on your soil? What if they continue to use the schools on your territory to plant subconscious seeds?”

Bulut made similar comments during an interview with the state broadcaster, TRT, on Monday.

The Turkish state accuses Gulen and his supporters of being behind the failed 15 July attempt. Turkey is attempting to extradite Gulen from the US, where he has lived in exile since 1999. Gulen denies the accusations.

Bulut, who was appointed chief adviser to Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2013, has been known in past for engaging in conspiracy theories.

Before his appointment, and at the height of the Gezi Park protests, Bulut suggested that there was "a constant push for Mr Erdogan’s death through telekinesis, remote influence and many other efforts”.

In an email leaked last month after the hacking of the account of the energy minister, Berat Albayrak, another Erdogan adviser, Mustafa Varank, heavily criticises Bulut and begs for him not to be allowed on air.

In the email, Varank describes him as a “time bomb that needs to be removed from screens" and warns that the things Bulut says exceed what is suitable for an adviser.

Bulut had previously been a right-wing critic of Erdogan's government and as late as 2008 had compared his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to Nazi Germany.

Despite this, by May 2015 Bulut was announcing his willingness to lay down his life for the president.

“I have two licensed pistols and I have collected hundreds of bullets over the years thanks to my legal rights," he said, speaking live on TRT.

"Until I die, until I am shot or hanged, nobody can touch the elected president of this country. There are millions of citizens like me."

More than 100,000 people have been dismissed or suspended and 37,000 arrested since 15 July, in an unprecedented crackdown that Erdogan says is crucial to wipe out Gulenist networks from the state apparatus.

Tensions have also risen between the US and Turkey after the former dragged its feet over a request for the extradition of Gulen, who is based in the state of Pennsylvania.

However, on Monday Turkey's deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus, suggested that the extradition process had been "sped up" following a visit to the US by the Turkish justice minister.

"It does not seem easy that Gulen could be extradited to Turkey or provisionally arrested tomorrow morning, but I can say that the process has been accelerated," the minister told reporters in the capital.

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