Turkey's Erdogan has vowed to cut off all funding for the Gulen movement's "nests of terrorism" - schools, companies and charities. The movement has already been weakened.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday told the heads of chambers of commerce in Ankara that Turkey would choke off all funding to the network of run by the US-based Islamic cleric it blames for orchestrating a failed July 15 coup.
Erdogan said Turkey would "totally cut off all business links" in Turkey and abroad that are affiliated with the Fethullah Gulen movement.
Turkey blames Gulen, once a close Erdogan ally, for ordering the coup that left nearly 250 dead and has spawned a major purge of thousands of alleged Gulenists within the military and state bureaucracy. Turkey accuses Gulen of forming a "parallel state" terror organization that infiltrated key state institutions.
"They have nothing to do with a religious community; they are a fully-fledged terrorist organization ... This cancer is different. This virus has spread everywhere," Erdogan said.
For more than two years Erdogan has been clamping down on the Gulen movement, taking over and shutting down businesses, media outlets and schools tied to the movement. Multiple businessmen have been detained for funding the group.
"The business world is where they are the strongest. We will cut off all business links, all revenues of Gulen-linked business. We are not going to show anyone any mercy," Erdogan said.
The crackdown started after a December 2013 corruption scandal led by Gulenist prosecutors and police, which threatened to take down Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party.
The Gulen movement and its finances have been bruised by the crackdown, but it is a global movement with business interests spread beyond the reach of Turkish authorities.
Europe and the United States have expressed concern over the extent of the crackdown in Turkey. It is hard to imagine they will join Ankara in a purge of Gulenist institutions and shut down complex financing mechanisms. A failure to aid Ankara could further strain ties between Turkey and the West.
No one has ever accounted for all of its funding activities, which include collecting tithes from members.
cw/kms (AP, Reuters)