A US media article about problematic appointments to committees of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is reporting that a board member of two organizations tied to President Erdoğan was on two DNC’s committees according to a September 2019 members list. The article describes Murat Guzel as follows:
August 8, 2020 Guzel, a frequent large donor who has made hundreds of donations to Democratic committees nationwide, had also been treasurer of the Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC). Guzel was alleged by Sassounian to be providing updates on his U.S. political activities to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inner circle. According to a report last November by the London-based Investigative Journal, Wikileaks released an email in which Guzel wrote to Erdogan’s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, that “to stand behind Erdogan and do whatever we can do against the evil powers is not just an act of compassion but rather an ‘Islamic obligation’ upon all of us” (p. 45).
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In addition to Albayrak, Murat Guzel has had direct contact with other figures close to Erdoğan in regards to US political matters, as demonstrated by other leaked e‑mails from 2014 including:
- An e‑mail exchange with Erdoğan spokesman İbrahim Kalın about paying a US congressman to write an op-ed favorable to Erdoğan.
- Another exchange including Erdoğan’s son, Bilal Erdoğan, dealt with responding to another congressman’s praise of an Erdoğan political enemy, Fethullah Gülen.
Guzel is currently listed as a board member of the Turkish American National Steering Committee’s (TASC) and was listed as its treasurer as late as June 2020. TASC itself is strongly connected to President Erdoğan as:
- TASC’s co-chair, Halil Mutlu, is President Erdoğan’s cousin.
- Mutlu is the former chairman of the Turken Foundation, where Erdoğan’s daughter Esra Albayrak is on the board of directors.
- The other co-chair of TASC, Gunay Evinch, is a principal of Saltzman & Evinch, the law firm retained by Turkey and engaged in the legal defense of Erdoğan’s bodyguards accused of assaulting protestors during Erdoğan’s May 2017 visit to Washington DC.
- TASC also has hosted events in the US where President Erdoğan has spoken.
TASC additionally has several relationships with the US Global Muslim Brotherhood, another transnational influence operation covered by the GIOR:
- In September 2019, TASC hosted an event where president Erdoğan spoke alongside and met with USMB leaders.
- TASC also participated in the 15th Annual MAS-ICNA Convention in 2016, along with one of Erdoğan’s daughters, Turkish public broadcaster TRT, and other Turkish organizations and agencies.
- TASC co-sponsored a rally against President Donald Trump’s 2017 declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel along with several US Muslim Brotherhood groups.
Guzel has also been listed as a board member of MÜSIAD USA, the US division of MÜSIAD: an Islamist Turkish businessman’s association described in a report authored by the GIOR editor as also supported by Erdoğan and which played a role in the 2010 Gaza Flotilla involved with a violent altercation with Israeli naval forces.