Turkish media is reporting that the Turkish American National Steering Committee, along with the heads of US Islamist organizations, has met with the new Turkish Ambassador to the United States. According to the Anadolu Agency report:
April 10, 2021 The meeting, organized by the Turkish American Steering Committee (TASC), was attended by New York Consul General Reyhan Özgür, Religious Services Counselor Bilal Kuşpınar, TASC co‑chair Halil Mutlu and other senior officials, as well as representatives of Muslim community organizations in New York and New Jersey. “We need to show the American people how good we are, that we want nothing more than the good of this country, and that we are an integral part of this society,” [Ambassador] Mercan said, referring to the common problems faced in US society and emphasizing the need to act together to solve them. Speaking at the meeting, New York Shura Council Speaker Abdulhafid Cemil wished Ambassador Mercan success in his new role and stressed that Turkey’s position in the Islamic world and the Turkish community in the United States are very important to them, and said that the joint work of the two communities will continue. [Translated by Microsoft Translator with edits]
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Abdulhafid Cemil of the New York Shura Council is presumably Abdelhafidh Djemil, president of Majlis Ash-Shura: Islamic Leadership Council of New York. Djemil was a speaker at a TASC event where President Erdoğan also spoke and has also previously met with the Turkish consulate. Majlis Ash-Shura is a member organization of the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a US Muslim Brotherhood umbrella organization. In October 2020, GIOR reported that the USCMO met with Erdoğan in August of that year.
Bilal Kuşpınar is the chairman of the Diyanet Center of America, the US branch of the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs, a state institution managing religious affairs in Turkey and abroad.
Also at the meeting was Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing who has held various positions in the Islamic Society of North America, the American Muslim Council, the North American Islamic Trust, and the Council on American Islamic Relations, all US Muslim Brotherhood groups.
The Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) is strongly tied to Turkish President Erdoğan:
- TASC co-chair Halil Mutlu is Erdoğan’s cousin.
- TASC co-chair Gunay Evinch is a principal of Saltzman & Evinch, a law firm retained by Turkey.
- TASC’s former treasurer, Murat Guzel, detailed his US political activities in emails to Erdoğan family members.
Previous GIOR reporting on TASC has included:
- In March 2021, we reported that TASC wanted to contribute to US-Turkish relations by distributing food aid through US politicians.
- In March 2021, we reported that TASC had successfully gotten an anti-Erdoğan ad pulled from Times Square.
- In March 2021, we reported that TASC denounced a US senate letter urging the Biden Administration to have Turkey improve its human rights record.
- In October 2020, we reported that TASC board member Murat Güzel was a member of two DNC committees.