Trip report from Amman: I’m so encouraged by what I see God doing in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Here’s why.


JETS-graduationOn Sunday night, I returned home to Israel from a very encouraging four-day trip to Jordan.

The purpose was to visit the Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary (JETS), at the invitation of its founder and president, Dr. Imad Shehadeh. A Jordanian national, Imad is a remarkable Arab believer who graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary (and currently serves on the board of DTS). He has a deep passion for studying and teaching the Word of God and training others to “preach the Word, in season and at out” and it’s clear that the Lord has truly given favor to this man despite enormous challenges he and his wife have faced over the years.

Until this trip, Imad and I had never met, only communicated by phone and email. So I was enormously grateful for his invitation and eager to get to know him and his colleagues.

In many ways, this trip was an ideal complement to the visit I made to Jordan earlier this spring. On that five-day visit, I focused primarily on better understanding how Jordan’s monarch and government leaders are handling the refugee crisis and various security challenges, particularly the threat of ISIS. On this trip, I was able to focus on understanding on how the Jordanian Church is doing and how they are training future pastors and ministry leaders.

I traveled into Jordan with some dear friends, Rev. Munir Kakish and his wife, Sharon. Munir is a Jordanian citizen, but grew up most of his life on the West Bank. He is a pastor in Ramallah and also runs an orphanage. For the past decade, he has also served as chairman of the Palestinian Evangelical Council of churches and Christian ministries. It was very encouraging to spend so much time with them and get their take on the health and growth of the  Church in the West Bank and Gaza as well in Jordan. (plus, they took me to some wonderful restaurants in and around Amman!)

Together, we had a great time meeting with Imad and other Jordanian pastors and Christian leaders and hearing their perspective on what God is doing in Jordan and throughout the region these days. We toured the beautiful JETS campus on the outskirts of Amman (some of which is still under construction.) We attended a banquet with students and faculty to celebrate JETS’ 25th anniversary, and we had the joy of attending the graduation ceremony.

I was deeply impressed and enormously encouraged by what I saw. I learned that the Church in Jordan is growing steadily and there are now between 10,000 and 15,000 Evangelical Arab Christians. The gospel is being preached throughout the country both by pastors and individuals sharing their faith with neighbors and even more extensively by the ministry of numerous Christian satellite TV networks — broadcasting the gospel and Bible teaching in Arabic — that can be seen all throughout Jordan.

And starting 25 years ago, the Lord began raising up in JETS a doctrinally solid, Bible-centered theological training center for pastors and future ministry leaders. The school has the support of all the Evangelical denominations in the country and is producing quality graduates, well grounded in their faith.

I’ve posted quite a few pictures from my trip on our “Epicenter Team” page on Facebook. I hope you’ll take a look through those.

Here, too, is a more detailed snapshot of what God has been doing JETS over the last 25 years:

  • JETS was founded in 1991.
  • The first graduating class was in 1996.
  • On Saturday, August 20, 2016, 38 students graduated — this was the 20th cohort of students completing their studies at JETS since it was founded.
  • Since its inception, JETS has 285 graduates with degrees up to a Master of Theology (Th.M.).
  • Many more students have taken classes and received theological training without being in a degree program. This includes special programs for American students taking semester-long courses, as well as students who participate in non-formal training.
  • The average enrollment on campus is 120 students in degree programs.
  • Thirty-four students have applied to the new Doctor of Ministry program in the Fall of 2016.
  • A growing number of students receive their JETS education through on-line distance learning programs. This is a growing trend.
  • Graduates are serving in 10 Arab countries, as well as Arab communities in 11 non-Arab countries.
  • 60% of the churches in Jordan are pastored by JETS graduates.
  • 95% of Jordanian churches include JETS graduates in their ministries.
  • At the beginning, Dr. Shehadeh was the only Jordanian national to be teaching at the seminary. Today, however, 8 of 17 resident faculty are Jordanian nationals, and most have Ph.D.’s.
  • JETS also has a pool of at least 24 adjunct and visiting faculty from the West.
  • The JETS library contains 37,000 volumes.

Given the volatility in the region, please continue praying for the people and leaders of Jordan. Please pray for the Church in Jordan. And please pray for those involved in JETS, that the Lord may continue to do a great work in and through the faculty, students and graduates for His glory. Thanks so much.



A chilling headline ripped from the pages of The Third Target & The First Hostage: “How the Islamic State Seized A Chemical Weapons Stockpile.”

FP-ISIS-chemweaponsWhen I sit down to write a novel, I don’t set out to predict the future.

Rather, I set out to write about worst case scenarios that could come to pass if our leaders are blind-sided by evil they ignore or misunderstand.

This was the case when I began writing my first novel, The Last Jihad, in January 2001. That was a novel that opened with a group of Radical Islamic terrorists hijacking a jet plane and flying a kamikaze mission into an American city, an attack that sets into motion a U.S. war against Saddam Hussein.

That was also the case when in the fall of 2013 I began writing The Third Target, the first installment in my latest series of political thrillers. After doing months of research, meeting with two former CIA directors, a former head of Israel’s Mossad, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Jordan, and numerous of military and intelligence experts, I set out to write a novel about a New York Times reporter named J.B. Collins who hears a rumor that ISIS has captured a cache of chemical weapons from a military base in northern Syria.

As that novel, and the second in the series — The First Hostage — unfold, Collins and two colleagues slip into hellish, war-torn Syria to track down and interview an ISIS operative to confirm the story. Along the way, Collins and his team not only discover that the terror group has these horrific weapons but that the leaders of ISIS hold to an End Times theology that is driving them to wage genocide against Christians, Jews and any Muslim that doesn’t follow their brand of Apocalyptic Islam to establish and expand their so-called Caliphate or Islamic kingdom.

That was fiction when I wrote it — but no longer. Unfortunately, this worst-case scenario appears to be coming to pass.

As time passes, we are learning more and more about the eschatology of the ISIS leadership (as I explained more detail in my last column). We are also learning that ISIS does now have weapons of mass destruction. Consider excerpts this chilling report from the latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine: “How The Islamic State Seized A Chemical Weapons Stockpile.”

  • Abu Ahmed told us about how the Islamic State of Iraq & the Levant (ISIS) came to acquire some of the world’s most fearsome weapons, which were claimed as spoils of war from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces months before its creation.
  • Roughly four months before the split between the Nusra Front and ISIS, in December 2012, dozens of Syrian jihadi fighters climbed a hill toward Regiment 111 — a large army base near the town of Darat Izza, in northern Syria. That town had been taken roughly five months earlier by a coalition of rebel groups. But while they had besieged Regiment 111 since the summer of 2012, they still had not succeeded in capturing the base from the troops loyal to President Assad. 
  • The weather had turned bad in winter, however, making it more difficult for the Syrian Air Force to hold off the rebels with airstrikes. Moreover, the base was huge, sprawling over almost 500 acres, and difficult to protect from all approaches. 
  • Syrian Army soldiers inside Regiment 111 successfully defended their base during the first rebel attack in early November 2012, killing 18 Nusra fighters in the process. But the cold December wind only fortified the rebels’ resolve. The base was a goldmine: home to guns, artillery, ammunition, and vehicles. And deep inside Regiment 111’s bunkers lay something even more valuable — a cache of chemical weapons….
  • Within a day, the combined jihadi forces had broken through the lines of the Syrian Army. Shortly after, Regiment 111 was fully under jihadi control. They found large stocks of weapons, ammunition and, to their surprise, chemical agents. They were, according to Abu Ahmad, mainly barrels filled with chlorine, sarin, and mustard gas.
  • What followed was the distribution of the war spoils. Everybody took some ammunition and weapons. But only the Nusra Front seized the chemical weapons. Abu Ahmad watched as the al Qaeda affiliate called in 10 large cargo trucks, loaded 15 containers with chlorine and sarin gas, and drove them away to an unknown destination. He did not see what happened to the mustard gas.
  • Three months later, both the Syrian government and rebel groups reported an attack in Khan al-Assal, near Aleppo. The international media said that 26 people had been killed, among them 16 regime soldiers and 10 civilians. Both the Syrian regime and opposition claimed that chemical weapons had been used — and both accused the other of having carried out one of the first chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian war…..

To read the full article, please click here.

To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it. Let us pray our leaders wake up to the true magnitude of the threat posed by ISIS and stop taking half-measures. It’s time to declare war on ISIS, take the gloves off, and do everything in our power — in close cooperation with our allies, especially those in the region — to end this scourge of evil once and for all.



Three reasons the next President — and his/her advisors (and you) — should carefully study the latest issue of the ISIS magazine, Dabiq. (One reason: To learn about the group’s genocidal eschatology in their own words.)


The next President of the United States, and his or her advisors, need to carefully study and analyze the latest issue of Dabiq, the full-color propaganda magazine of the Islamic State. So do other world leaders, Members of Congress and Middle East policy-makers. So do you.

Three reasons — in this edition of Dabiq:

  1. ISIS leaders make clear they want to bring about the End of Days.
  2. ISIS leaders vow to “break the cross” — that is, to slaughter Christians in the Middle East, in the West, and around the world, and to annihilate Christianity from the Earth.
  3. ISIS leaders lay out the six reasons they hate us, they state their ultimate objective, and they explain why they will never stop killing until they achieve total victory.

Far too many leaders in Washington believe the West is winning the war against ISIS. That is a dangerous fallacy. The sober truth is that we are not winning. ISIS is winning. Yes, ISIS is losing large tracts of territory in Iraq. They are also losing ground in Syria. But their forces are growing. The global reach of their attacks is spreading. Their blood-thirsty version of Apocalyptic Islam is metastasizing.

At the same time, far too few leaders in Washington and other capitals truly understand the theology, eschatology and objectives motivating the men and women running ISIS.

This is not Al Qaeda 2.0. The Islamic State and their pursuit of the caliphate is something far, far more dangerous. Those who misunderstand the nature and threat of this especially pernicious form of evil are at risk of allowing the country to be repeatedly blindsided by it with catastrophic results.



Throughout the entire issue is the genocidal End Times language of Apocalyptic Islam.

ISIS wants readers to understand their plan to create a global caliphate where everyone submits to Islam comes from the Qur’an and other Islamic scriptures. Regardless of what their critics say, they are emphatic that they are following the true path and that there is a great sense of urgency to obey Allah because the end is very near.

To be clear, it is not wrong necessarily to hold to an eschatology that says the messiah is coming to establish peace and justice on the Earth. Jews and Christians have their own versions of End Times theology, based on the Biblical teachings of the Old and New Testaments. That said, the Bible never calls on Jews and/or Christians to annihilate their enemies to bring about the Kingdom of the Messiah.

However, Apocalyptic Islam teaches exactly this — and this is one of the reasons it is both evil and dangerous.

For policy-makers unfamiliar with the concepts of Apocalyptic Islam, this issue of Dabiq provides some clear and thus useful language about what ISIS leaders believe:

  • “It is Allah who prepared the Earth for the bloodiest battle before the Hour, to see His slaves sweat in spilling their blood and that of His enemies.” (p. 13)
  • “When the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, returns in the end days to battle the Antichrist — the false messiah — and his army, of the myths he will debunk once and for all are those of his crucifixion and divinity. This will be when he [Jesus] breaks the cross….” (p. 48)
  • “When he [Jesus] returns in the final days, the Messiah will adhere to the Law of Muhammad and wage jihad for the cause of Allah….” (p. 49)


Having studied and read through many previous editions of Dabiq, what strikes me about this edition is how directly ISIS leaders are aiming at the theology and eschatology of Biblical Christianity.

  • There are articles that attempt to “debunk” the “myths” that Jesus died on the cross, rose from the dead, and was divine.
  • The authors try to blame modern Christianity on the Apostle Paul whom they claim was a liar that perverted the real teachings of Jesus.
  • The magazine is full of quotes from the Old and New Testaments, the Qur’an, and other sayings of Muhammad, pitting the ISIS brand of Islam against Judaism and Christianity.
  • There are interview with ISIS jihadists who claim to have been raised as Christians but later converted to Islam — the ISIS brand of Islam — and now are waging jihad, killing with abandon.
  • The article targets Protestants as well as Catholics and includes an article specifically attacking the current Pope as the “enemy” of Islam.

What emerges over eighty-some pages is this: ISIS leaders are calling on Christians around the world to renounce the Gospel and embrace their version of Islam or face slaughter at the hands of jihadists today, and ultimate annihilation by Jesus tomorrow, followed by a sentence to eternal damnation in the fires of Hell.


Finally, I commend to your attention an article titled, “Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You.” (p. 30) Consider a few excerpts:

  1. “We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; you reject the Oneness of Allah — whether you realize it or not — by making partners for Him in worship, you blaspheme Him, claiming that He has a son, you fabricate lies against his prophets and messengers, and you indulge in all manner of devilish practices….
  2. “We hate you because of your secular, liberal, societies permit the very things that Allah has prohibited….
  3. “In the case of the atheist fringe, we hate you and wage war against you because you disbelieve the existence of your Lord and Creator….
  4. “We hate you for your crimes against Islam and wage war against you to punish you for your transgressions against our religion….
  5. “We hate you for the crimes against the Muslims….
  6. “We hate you for invading our lands and fight you to repel you and drive you out….” (p. 31-32)

The article concludes by stating clearly and unequivocally that ISIS will not stop killing until every person on earth is a Muslim they way they define Islam.

“[E]ven if you [infidels] were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us and usurping our lands,” note the authors, “we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease until you embrace Islam.” (p. 33)

“The fact is we wage — and continue to escalate — a calculated war that the West thought it had ended several years ago. We continue dragging you further into a swamp you thought you had escaped only to realize that you’re stuck in its murky waters.”

The ISIS leaders explain that, at best, the world of infidels can obtain a “temporary truce” by surrendering to the caliphate and paying the slave tax known as the “jizyah.” But in the end, they are explicit in their objectives: they won’t be deterred from conquering and slaughtering until every man, woman on child is a Muslim of the ISIS brand.


As I have been arguing repeatedly again in recent years (see herehere, here, here, here, and here), it is critically important that leaders in Washington and in capitals around the world read and study carefully what the leaders of ISIS are saying.

ISIS leaders are not hiding their genocidal End Times objectives. Nor are they hiding their hatred of the world’s two billion Christians, plus all other “infidels” who don’t see God and the world and the future the way they do. Rather, they are being as explicit as they can. They want to be heard. They want to be understood. They do not fear being “found out.” To the contrary, they are absolutely certain they are on the winning side of history.

Admittedly, eschatology is not the language of the West’s historic enemies. Most world leaders and their advisor have interest in — and certainly little if any desire to talk about — varying interpretations of Jewish, Christian and/or Islamic End Times theology. But we are living in very different times. These are the cards we’ve been dealt. This enemy is unlike most others we have ever faced. Their motivations are different. Their strategies are different. So are their tactics.

We’d better understand the game, and how its stakes really are, before it’s too late.

NOTE: Be advised that the magazine includes some graphic and gruesome color photographs of ISIS atrocities. I do not recommend children study this issue. Parents and educators should only proceed with caution.



Some good news: Terror attacks in Israel hit 10 month low in July. Here’s the latest.

israel-westernwallSome good news this week — the number of terrorist attacks inside Israel has plunged from a high of 70 last October to only six in July.

“The number of terrorist attacks in Israel last month was one of the lowest in 10 months,” reports the Jerusalem Post. “There were six attacks in July, according to the IDF, a drastic fall from the 70 seen last October. Since the current wave of terrorism began, 41 Israelis and foreigners and about 250 Palestinians have died.”

“A senior IDF officer told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the July number shows that recent tactics used by the security system are working,” the Post noted. “These include a combination of precise intelligence from the Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) with daily and nightly IDF operations to distinguish terrorists from the rest of the population in the West Bank. The operations allow the majority of Palestinians, including 100,000 holders of Israeli work permits, to continue with their day to day routines.”

The article further noted that “the success in pinpointing and stopping terrorism, most of which has come from ‘lone wolf’ attackers, will be a major issue brought up by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot during his visit this week to the United States. Eisenkot is a guest of Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. This is the third meeting between the two since Eisenkot entered his position a year and a half ago. Dunford has been a guest of the IDF in Israel twice.”

Thank the Lord for His grace and mercy on both Jews and Arabs and other nationalities here. Thanks, too, to all of you who in the U.S., Canada, and around the world who continue to faithfully and consistently pray for the peace of Jerusalem in obedience to Psalm 122. The Lord is hearing and answering these prayers, and we have much for which to be grateful. Let’s keep praying — and praying especially for those who have been wounded over the past year, and for the families and friends of those who have been killed and are still grieving.



This summer, The Joshua Fund celebrates 10 years of blessing Israel & her neighbors in the name of Jesus. Here are some reflections on how the ministry began.


The following article was one Lynn & I wrote earlier this year for The Joshua Fund’s quarterly newsletter.

On June 14, 2006, a small group of us gathered in our home in Virginia to sign the paperwork and officially begin The Joshua Fund, to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. We gathered there with a few trusted friends who had already been praying and serving together in the Epicenter for several years. As our first board was founded that night, we expectantly asked the Lord to use us in a new way to be a part of what He was doing.

It is amazing to look back and see God’s faithfulness since then. Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”

And in Jeremiah 33:3 we read, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

God has graciously answered our prayers “more than we could ask for or imagine” over the years (Ephesians 3:20). And we can ask and imagine a lot! He has opened incredible doors of relationships and opportunities and He has provided the people and resources to walk through those doors together.

Joel had been writing books since 2001 and the novels were generating an ever-growing interest from American and Canadian Christians who wanted to invest their resources to bless Israel and her neighbors. Joel would speak at a church or conference and people would persistently ask him how they could get involved in what God was doing in the Middle East. We began with two specific financial gifts given to us unexpectedly for the purpose of translating and freely distributing Joel’s book, The Ezekiel Option, which has a strong gospel message, into Hebrew and Russian.

As this fledgling organization began to plan its first projects, a war in southern Lebanon erupted. While Hezbollah and Israel fought in July and August of 2006, millions of civilians on both sides endured displacement and danger.

As we gathered several times at our home in that summer, it was clear that we should plan for a budget that would enable us to provide humanitarian relief, through believers, to those suffering in the region due to war, terror and economic hardships. It was first proposed that $25,000 would be a good start. But one of the women spoke up and said, “I think we need to trust the Lord for a million dollars!” We all looked at one another, realizing none of us had a plan to raise money like that. But we sensed that she was right, that we needed to rely on God for things only He could do. And He was faithful.

We sought the Lord to see how we might help bring the hope of Christ to people in distress. In what became the hallmark of our approach, we found trusted and experienced believers in the region whom we could invest in, pray for and encourage. The Lord has a remnant of His church even in the most difficult places and we need to be a part of strengthening what remains (Revelation 3:2). He is building His church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).

By God’s grace we were able to supply followers of Christ caught in the conflict with practical resources which they could use to serve their neighbors. We also sought to educate and mobilize the church in North America towards prayer for the region. We wanted people to know that there is actually so much good news in the Middle East. There are unknown heroes who every day endure the challenges and yet stand strong in the Lord as His light in the darkness. Despite the sorrows and fears in this complicated and unstable part of the world, “we who have taken refuge…have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:18-19).

In just those first 3 months of The Joshua Fund’s existence, God taught us and shaped us in ways that we have clung to for 10 years.

  • First, begin every endeavor prayerfully.
  • Second, ask the Lord to build a team. In studying the gospels, the book of Acts and the epistles of the New Testament, it is unmistakably clear that Jesus modeled teamwork in His calling and leading the disciples in the Holy Land. We see that Paul and Barnabus worked with a very close team of believers as they travelled around the Mediterranean nations together.
  • Third, humbly and quietly strengthen the Church as they serve their neighbors and love their enemies. This is not the ministry of any person or group of people, it belongs to the Lord. We should never, ever try to “make a name for ourselves” but only lift up His name.
  • Fourth, rely on the Lord to provide for your every need. In faith, we have seen the Lord flood The Joshua Fund with partners in this effort without our even seeking them out! He has not only provided financially, but with His abundant grace in navigating the many “landmines” of ministry in a complex environment. He has sent gifted and servant-minded staff to join us as He has expanded this ministry. From our humble beginnings, The Joshua Fund now has a staff team that spans ten time zones!
  • Fifth, expect the Lord to surprise you. How humbling and thrilling to realize day by day that God’s plans are higher and greater than our plans. We don’t know when a war will break out, but He does. We don’t know when a door of opportunity to serve will swing open, but He does. Sometimes, the smallest and most humble of endeavors on our part as His children are the most valued by Him.

Some of our favorite parts of the New Testament are the list of names at the end of Paul’s epistles. These people who are basically unknown were so dear to Paul. They had supported his ministry in prayer and in finances and in rooting him on in the faith. In the letter to the Romans alone, in chapter 16, they are called: fellow workers, beloved, hard workers, approved in Christ, kinsman, brothers, sisters, chosen in the Lord, helpers, saints and servants. This is how we see the whole Joshua Fund team that God has raised up, from donors to staff to members of our board to the partners in the field.

As we move forward into the myriad of unknowns in the next ten years, let’s keep clinging to what we know: God is faithful and He deeply loves Israel and her neighbors more than we ever could.

May He alone be glorified!


Would you like to make an investment in The Joshua Fund (, this non-profit organization created to help Christians care for Syrian refugees, educate and mobilize Christians to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, care for the poor and needy in Israel (both Jews and Arabs) with food and other humanitarian relief, care for Holocaust survivors, and strengthen the Church in the epicenter. Read our latest Donor Report, and prayerfully consider making a tax deductible, secure, on-line contribution. Thanks so much!

Is Turkey’s Fethullah Gulen a moderate or an “archconservative” Muslim cleric who has said & written terrible things about Christians, Jews & America? (A column worth reading.)

FethullahGulen2Yesterday, I posted what will be the first of several articles about a Turkish man named Fethullah Gulen, the 75 year old Islamic cleric who Recep Erdogan says is the “mastermind” of the coup attempt.

In that article, I noted that some — like the editors of Time magazine — say Gulen is a powerful voice of moderate Islam. Others say he is the leader of a cult.

Today, I’m posting a column by Claire Berlinksi, a journalist who lived in Turkey for ten years. She reports that “many Turks…view [Gulen] as an archconservative imam with retrograde views about women, atheists, and apostates.”

She notes that Gulen has written horrible things about Christians, Jews and America, yet “has neither repudiated nor apologized for his former views.”

She doesn’t conclude Gulen is definitively the mastermind behind the coup attempt Erdogan, but the fact that Erdogan is so determined to put Gulen and his followers and supporters in prison tells us something important about the power struggle going on inside Turkey.

As I continue to study the dynamics inside Turkey, and try to get a clearer picture of both Erdogan and Gulen, and try to understand how to pray for the Turkish people — and the church in Turkey — I found this column helpful. I hope you do, as well.

Who is Fethullah Gülen?

By Claire Berlinski, July 20, 2016

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, claims that a Muslim cleric living in rural Pennsylvania was the mastermind of a bloody, failed coup attempt in Turkey last Friday. The attempt saw the unprecedented horror of the Turkish military turning its arms against their own people and mowing them down in the street. It almost succeeded in killing Erdoğan and decapitating the Turkish government.

So who is Fethullah Gülen, why is he in the United States, and how credible is this charge?

Born in 1941, Gülen hails from a village near Erzurum, the eastern frontier of what is now the Turkish Republic. The contemporary Gülen presents a tolerant image, but his early career was notable for markedly intolerant statements, sermons, and publications.

  • In one sermon, allegedly dating from 1979, Gülen chastises his flock for failing to prevent infidels from controlling of all of the holy places of Islam: “Muslims should become bombs and explode, tear to pieces the heads of the infidels! Even if it’s America opposing them.”
  • In another, he says: “Until this day missionaries and the Vatican have been behind all atrocities. The Vatican is the hole of the snake, the hole of the cobra. The Vatican is behind the bloodshed in Bosnia. The Vatican is behind the bloodshed in Kashmir. They have lobby groups in America and Germany.”
  • In unrevised editions of books from his early career, such as Fasildan Fasila and Asrin Getirdigi Tereddutler, Gülen calls the Western world the “continuous enemy of Islam.”
  • Of Christians, he writes: “After a while they perverted and obscured their own future.”
  • Jews have a “genetic animosity towards any religion” and have used “their guile and skills to breed bad blood” to threaten Islam from the beginning of time, “uniting themselves with Sassanids, Romans and crusaders.”
  • He avers that “the Church, the Synagogue and Paganism form the troika that has attacked Islam persistently.”
  • “In any case,” he writes, “the Prophet considers Islam as one nation and the Kuffar as the other nation.”

In the late 1990s, Gülen changed his mind — or his tactics — forging warm ties with the Vatican and other tablemates of the Interfaith Dialogue platform.

Charged with attempting to infiltrate the Turkish state, he fled to the United States, ensconcing himself at the heart of what he once considered the Devil’s headquarters. Since then, he has presented himself as the great cultural reconciler. Many Turks, however, still view him as an archconservative imam with retrograde views about women, atheists, and apostates. He has neither repudiated nor apologized for his former views. The earlier books have been wordlessly revised.

Gülen has somewhere between three and six million Gülen followers. The value of the institutions inspired by Gülen — which exist on every populated continent — has been estimated, variously, as ranging from $20 to $50 billion. His movement is, at least on the surface, warm toward America. This is unsurprising, given that he’s in exile in the U.S. and has considerable business interests there. Among other ventures, he is a big player in the American charter school movement.

Initially, the AKP and the Gülen movement formed an alliance of convenience aimed at dislodging the old, Kemalist establishment in Turkey. But like any alliance of convenience, it reached its natural conclusion. Once the old guard was safely in prison or silenced for fear of arrest, Erdoğan and Gülen began to fight for ultimate control.

What we’ve witnessed in the past few years has been a fight among the new, ostensibly pious ruling elites about how to divide the spoils of power. In recent years, the key power struggle in Turkey has not been between the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and the country’s secularists, but between Erdoğan and Gülen. The struggle hasn’t been about elections or democracy.

Rather, it is a struggle for control of the Turkish state itself.

For years, this split was denied and papered over, but it broke into the open when Gülenist prosecutors attempted to arrest Erdogan’s intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan. It exploded during the Gezi protests in 2013, when the movement issued an 11-article communiqué to dispute “accusations and charges” that it claimed came from AKP quarters.

Another recent flashpoint was Erdogan’s decision to abolish the dershanes — something like private university grammer schools, and a major source for Gülen’s recruits. The movement correctly perceived this as an attempt to eradicate their influence. In 2013, Erdoğan, his associates, and his family were implicated in a massive corruption scandal. Erdoğan denied all charges, blamed them on a Gülenist conspiracy, and vowed revenge. Government officials accused Gülen and his followers of treason and began referring to them as “terrorists.”

What of the movement’s role in America?

In 2007, Gülen sued the U.S. government in District Court, challenging the denial of his petition for classification as an alien of extraordinary ability that would allow him to stay in the United States. District Judge Stewart Dalzell noted that Gülen’s work was “prominent on the syllabi of graduate and undergraduate courses at major American colleges and universities.” Based on Gulen’s “unchallenged statement that the visa he seeks ‘will allow [him] to continue to advocate and promote interfaith dialogue and harmony between members of different faiths and religions’” the court found “no basis for denying his application…” The application was approved.

Since then, Gülen has been able to amass sufficient manpower and influence to beguile several Commanders-in-Chief, woo countless members of Congress, and become the largest operator of charter schools in America, funded with millions of taxpayer dollars, many of these issued in the form of public bonds. These schools have come under scrutiny by the FBI and the Departments of Labor and Education, which have been investigating their hiring practices, particularly the replacement of certified American teachers with uncertified Turkish ones who are paid higher salaries than the Americans, using visas that are supposed to be reserved for highly-skilled workers who fill needs unmet by the U.S. workforce.

The schools have been credibly and frequently charged with channeling school funds to other Gülen-inspired organizations, bribery, using the schools to generate political connections, unfair hiring and termination practices, and academic cheating.

There is no evidence, however, that Islamic proselytizing takes place at them.

Nor is there hard evidence, so far, that Gülen was the mastermind of the coup. It is, however, entirely plausible, and even probable, that he or his supporters played some role in it — although it may never be clear what this role was, precisely, or what they aimed to achieve.

Claire Berlinski is a Paris-based journalist who spent ten years in Turkey. She is now writing a crowd-funded book about the transformations overtaking Europe.



Who is Fethullah Gulen, and was he the mastermind behind the failed Turkish coup? (Erdogan wants to put Gulen in prison & has arrested, fired or suspended 60,000 Turks believed to be Gulen’s supporters. Here’s the latest.)


Who is Fethullah Gulen, and why is the leader of Turkey on a rampage to arrest him and tens of thousands of his followers?

Gulen, now 75, is a Turkish citizen, an Islamic cleric, and a long-time rival of Turkish President Recip Erdogan. He is currently living in exile in Pennsylvania.

In 2013, Time magazine named him one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People.” Describing him “the most potent advocate of moderation in the Muslim world,” Time said Gulen “preaches a message of tolerance that has won him admirers around the world.”

Others describe Gulen as a “cult leader.”

Erdogan says Gulen is the “mastermind” behind last Friday’s coup attempt. He is demanding the U.S. government extradite Gulen back to Turkey immediately.

Gulen strongly opposes Erdogan, but denies any involvement in last week’s violence and political intrigue.

Gulen “went into self-imposed exile when he moved from Turkey to the United States in 1999 and settled in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania,” reports CNN.

Gulen leads a movement called “Hizmet,” described by the New York Times as “a moderate, pro-Western brand of Sunni Islam that appeals to many well-educated and professional Turks.”

Followers of the movement — which number in the millions — are called “Gulenists.” Some reports suggest that upwards of 10% of the Turkish population of 80 million support Gulen and Hizmet, reports the UK Guardian newspaper.

Was Gulen truly the man behind the plot to bring Erdogan down? That remains to be seen. But it is an interesting question.

Unable — so far — to persuade the Obama administration to arrest and deport Gulen, Erdogan and his regime are conducting a massive purge of Turkish society.

In less than a week, they have has arrested, fired or suspended nearly 60,000 citizens this week for being part of what Erdogan calls a “cancer virus” of opposition to his rule that he says must be eradicated, reports Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Many are believed by the government of being Gulenists in highly influential positions, though Erdogan appears to be purging almost anyone who has expressed dissent against him, even if they are not part of the Hizmet movement.

Erdogan has also just “announced a three-month state of emergency starting July 21 to augment the government’s power to avenge last week’s bloody coup attempt,” noted RFE/RL. This gives him even more draconian power to crackdown on political, religious, military, academic and media opponents.

Among those arrested, fired or suspended (according to RFE/RL):

  • 21,000 teachers
  • 15,200 Education Ministry officials
  • 8,000 police officers
  • 7,500 soldiers
  • 3,000 members of the judiciary
  • 1,577 university deans
  • 492 Muslim preachers and scholars
  • 1/3 of the 360 active generals serving in the Turkish military

Please keep praying for the people of Turkey as they undergo this authoritarian nightmare. Please pray for the Christians in Turkey to be lights in the darkness, and that they would have the courage to boldly proclaim the Gospel and make disciples despite the sweeping crackdown by an Islamist dictator.




FAILED COUP: Turkey’s increasingly dangerous Islamist President Erdogan returns to power. UPDATE: 6,000 arrested, 265 dead, 1,400 wounded.


UPDATE (Sunday):

  • 6,000 arrested in Turkey
  • “This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army,” says Erdogan
  • “Among those arrested was the commander of a Turkish airbase used by U.S. forces to launch raids on jihadists in Iraq and Syria, a senior Turkish official said. Gen. Bekir Ercan Van, 10th Base Commander at Incirlik Air Base, was detained along with 10 other soldiers on Sunday. The facility in southern Turkey is a major NATO military installation hosting U.S. forces that control one of the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons in Europe,” reports the Washington Post

UPDATE (as of 2:30pm local time in Ankara on Saturday):

  • Five Turkish generals and 29 colonels have been removed from their positions.
  • More than 2,800 members of the Turkish military have been arrested.
  • More than 100 coup plotters are dead.
  • A total of more than 265 people have been killed in the military-led coup and the response to the coup.
  • Some 1,440 people have been wounded.
  • See reports from the Washington Post, the New York Times, Bloomberg, and BBC.


In a stunning night of violence, conspiracy and dramatic reversals, an attempted coup by a faction of Turkish military officers and soldiers determined to bring down the increasingly authoritarian and dangerous Islamist regime of President Recep Erdogan has failed.

Now what? What does the future hold for the nearly 80 million Muslims of Turkey?

Erdogan (pronounced “Air-do-wan”) was out of the country when the coup began late Friday night. But he was in contact with top generals who were loyal to him. By the wee hours of the morning, his plane landed in Istanbul and he announced that he was firmly back in control.

Calling the coup plotters “terrorists” engaged in “treason,” he ordered the arrest of more than 700 military officers and soldiers so far, saying “the army must be cleansed” of anyone disloyal to him.

Here’s the latest on the coup from the BBC:

  • Sixty people died during overnight clashes, many of them civilians
  • 754 soldiers were arrested, officials said.
  • Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the situation was largely under control. He has ordered the military to shoot down aircraft being used by coup plotters.
  • Earlier, one of the helicopters being flown by forces involved in the coup attempt was shot down over the capital Ankara.

In a statement, the Turkish foreign ministry said the coup attempt “was foiled by the Turkish people in unity and solidarity. Our president and government are in charge,” reported the BBC. “Turkish Armed Forces was not involved in the coup attempt in its entirety. It was conducted by a clique within the armed forces and received a well-deserved response from our nation.”

Few Westerners have paid much attention to Erdogan’s rise in recent years, but as I’ve noted on this blog, he is an increasingly dangerous figure who is going to pose a serious challenge for NATO leaders and particularly for the next President of the United States.

Consider just a few quick facts for now:

Dangerous and dictatorial before the coup, Erdogan will now likely become far more so. I would expect a deep and extensive purge of the military, with far more arrests. I would also expect an even tougher crackdown on free speech, freedom to associate, and freedom of religion.

As darkness falls on this Biblical nation — where the Apostle Paul and his team repeatedly risked their lives to preach the Gospel, make disciples, and plant churches — please be praying for the people of Turkey, for her leaders, and her future.




BREAKING NEWS: Military coup underway in Turkey. Apparently seeking to bring down Islamist government led by Erdogan. Here’s what we know at this hour.



UPDATED at 12:30pm Israel time — “Keep your eyes on Turkey — it’s rapidly emerging as anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Israel Islamist dictatorship.”

Readers of this blog may recall that line from a May 12, 2016 column.

Tonight, all eyes are in fact on this Middle Eastern country as dramatic developments unfold. Reports are coming in fast and furious in the last hour that a military coup is underway, apparently to bring down the increasingly dangerous Islamist government.

  • Troops and tanks are moving to seize control of the capital city of Ankara, as well as the commercial and tourism capital of Istanbul.
  • Fighter jets are reportedly in the air. Military officials say they are moving quickly to wrest control the entire country.
  • All flights in and out of the country have been cancelled.
  • The military has seized control of the TV and radio stations.

Many questions are being raised.

  • Where exactly is Turkish President Recip Erdogan at this hour? (UPDATE: He just gave a brief speech using FaceTime. NBC News reporting that Erdogan is not currently in Turkey — was trying to fly to Germany but was denied permission; may be heading to a Gulf country. )
  • Has Erdogan — who had been emerging as a power-hungry Sultan apparently trying to rebuild the glory of the once-mighty Ottoman Empire — truly been removed from power?
  • If so, by whom?
  • Who exactly is behind the coup?
  • What precisely do they want?
  • What are the national security and foreign implications for the United States, for Europe, for Israel, and the rest of the Middle East?
  • How will the White House handle this crisis?
  • How will the American presidential candidates and their top advisors handle it?

It’s a fast-moving story. These are just a few of the many unanswered questions at the moment. Please pray for the people and leaders of Turkey. Pray for the Christians in that country to be light in the darkness.


Here’s what we know as of midnight local time here in the region:

“Turkey’s army says it seized power in the country as warplanes flew over the capital and tanks blocked roads in Istanbul,” reports Bloomberg News. “Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said his government is still in control and will resist. The army said in an e-mailed statement that it took power to restore freedom and democracy. It said all international agreements will be honored.”

“The coup effort won’t be permitted to succeed, Yildirim told NTV television,” according to Bloomberg. “He said army units have besieged ‘some institutions,’ and he said police — traditionally closer to his government than the army — have been ordered to use arms if necessary. He said the elected government remains in power. It wasn’t immediately clear how much of the country is now under military control.”

“Since 1960, the NATO member has experienced at least three takeovers by the secular-minded army,” Bloomberg noted. “But since the Islamist-rooted Ak Party government came to power in 2002, the political influence of the military has been trimmed.”

“The prime minister of Turkey said on Friday night that factions of the military had attempted a coup,” reports the New York Times.

“Some people illegally undertook an illegal action outside of the chain of command,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in comments broadcast on NTV, a private television channel. “The government elected by the people remains in charge. This government will only go when the people say so.”

The Times cited Reuters which reported in a short series of bulletins that the military had issued a statement saying it had “taken over” for “democratic order” and that “all existing foreign relations will continue.”

“The whereabouts of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has dominated politics in Turkey for many years and has sought to establish a firm control over the military, was not immediately clear,” the Times added. “Military forces shut two bridges over the Bosporus in Istanbul, and fighter jets were seen flying over Istanbul and Ankara, the capital. The main airport in Istanbul was reported to have halted flights.”



What do we know about the terrorist who killed 84 in Nice, France? Here’s the latest — including an ISIS call for Muslims to plow over people in cars. UPDATE: ISIS claims credit, says its “soldier” responsible for attack in Nice.

Nice-attack2016UPDATE: “An Islamic State-run media outlet says the man who barreled his truck into a crowd in the French coastal city of Nice is a ‘soldier’ of the group,” reports the Associated Press. “The Aamaq news agency on Saturday cited a ‘security source’ as saying the attacker ‘carried out the operation in response to calls to target the citizens of coalition countries fighting the Islamic State.'”

ORIGINAL POST: The man who killed 84 people — including at least two Americans — in Nice, France, last night was a 31-year old French resident of North African origin named Lahouaiej Bouhlel.

Born in Tunisia, Bouhel used a large commercial truck to drive over crowds of pedestrians and tourists, often accelerating along his two kilometers killing spree, before being stopped, shot and killed by French police. Inside the truck, authorities found “a pistol, a larger gun, and a number of fake weapons and grenades.”

French President Francois Hollande called the event a “terrorist” attack even thought no terror organization has yet claimed responsibility. Still, the Islamic State has called for Muslims to killed Americans and Frenchmen in any way possible, including plowing into them with cars.

“If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman or any of their allies,” said ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani in one of his first speeches, according to a translation from the SITE Intelligence Group. “Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car.”

A French newspaper reports: “We can confirm the identity of the driver of the truck that drove into the crowds Tuesday night, according to our information.  It is the owner of the identity card that was found in the truck by police. He is from Nice and is of Tunisian origin, aged 31, called Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. Police raided his apartment in the Nice Nord district this morning. He works as a delivery driver and is known for criminal acts, including violence, but any radicalisation has gone unnoticed. His act seems yet to have been premeditated. He may have hired the truck on Wednesday in a neighboring town of Nice. The investigators are still is looking for possible accomplices.”

Please be praying for the wounded, and for the family and friends of all those who were killed. At the same time, please be praying for French authorities as they deal with yet another terrorist attack. Indeed, we need to be praying for leaders in the U.S., throughout Europe and around the world to be far more serious and decisive in combatting the threat of Radical Islam.

“A Bastille Day fireworks celebration was shattered by death and mayhem on Thursday night in the southern French city of Nice when a large truck barreled for more than a mile through an enormous crowd of spectators, crushing and maiming dozens in what France’s president called a terrorist assault,” reported the New York Times. “It came eight months after the Paris attacks that traumatized the nation and all of Europe.”

“Officials and witnesses in Nice said at least 84 people, including children, were killed by the driver of the rampaging truck, who mowed them down on the sidewalk,” the Times added. “He was shot to death by the police as officers scrambled to respond on what is France’s most important annual holiday. Graphic television and video images showed the truck accelerating and tearing through the crowd, dozens of victims sprawled in its path, and the bullet-riddled windshield of the vehicle. Municipal officials and police officers described the truck as full of weapons and grenades.”

“The horror, the horror has, once again, hit France,” President François Hollande said in a nationally televised address early Friday. He said the “terrorist character” of the assault was undeniable, and he described the use of a large truck to deliberately kill people as “a monstrosity.”