Organization Trends

Turkey’s NGO Network in America

The Islamist government of Turkey is spreading its influence on U.S. soil through a network of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including charities, mosques, political action committees (PACs), and ideological allies of the Muslim Brotherhood. Some of these entities have even received hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money, even though some of them are likely required to register as foreign agents under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).

While Turkey is a NATO member and is therefore ostensibly an “ally,” the ruling authoritarian regime of President Tayyip Erdogan is a promoter of Islamist extremism. Israeli media in particular has accused Erdogan of providing support to Hamas—a group that he says is not a terrorist organization, but a “resistance” movement fighting for “liberation.” Rather it is the state of Israel, he declares, that is the “terrorist.” Time among others has also noted the friendly relations between Hamas and Erdogan and Turkey.

Turkey supports the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is the Palestinian branch. The government is also accused of aiding al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in Syria. More broadly, Erdogan has an Islamist infrastructure around the globe that is used to spread his ideology.

The Turkish government has a specific directorate called the Presidency of Religious Affairs (the Diyanet) to oversee all of the religious and cultural organizations that Turkey sponsors. Although the Diyanet is supposed to be neutral, it has increasingly acted as an arm of the Erdogan regime.

For instance, the president of the Diyanet attended the funeral of the late Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and a Hitler-praising anti-Semite. There, the head of Diyanet praised Qaradawi. The Diyanet also continues to embrace the International Union of Muslim Scholars, a Hamas-linked Muslim Brotherhood entity with a history of extremism.

The U.S.-based headquarters of the Diyanet is a mosque in Lanham, Maryland, called the Diyanet Center of America, and it does business as the Turkish American Community Center. Its website openly acknowledges the Diyanet in Turkey funds the center and appoints its administrative and religious staff. It boasts of having completed a $110 million expansion into a “small village.” Its most recent 990 lists over $86 million in net assets.

Diyanet has at least 29 branches in the U.S. according to its website. A state-by-state list of the affiliates and their locations is provided at the end of this article.

As the Middle East Forum’s Focus on Western Islamism points out, the Diyanet in America is known to promote extremists. One guest preacher was Mufti Hussein Kamani of the Texas-based Qalam Institute. He preaches in favor of physically abusing wives as “discipline,” and he justifies having female sex slaves and punishing those who have sex outside of marriage or commit adultery by stoning them to death.

Two U.S.-based extremist preachers, Imam Siraj Wahhaj and Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens), were given awards by Erdogan at a Diyanet event in Turkey. The admiration is mutual, as Wahhaj has said he “love(s)” Erdogan and suggested that Turkey lead the Muslim world. Wahhaj has a long history of anti-American and theocratic rhetoric, including endorsing violent jihad and overthrowing the U.S. government and replacing it with a caliphate. Yusuf Islam remains supportive of the Iranian fatwa commanding Muslims to kill author Salman Rushdie.

The Turkish Network

Despite its ties to the Turkish government and its failure to register as a foreign agent as it seems legally required to do, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security awarded two nonprofit security grants for $148,887 and $146,138 to the Diyanet Center of America.

Turkey’s influence campaign also includes nonprofits outside the Diyanet’s jurisdiction.

Leaked messages from the email account of Erdogan’s son-in-law revealed an alleged plan to skirt U.S. laws by using nonprofits as fronts and engaging in creative strategies like hiring freelance journalists in order to gain political intelligence. The president of the Turkish Heritage Organization in New York laid out a plan to use a “camouflaged shell,” stating that “funding regulations and tax barriers that limit lobbying activities in the U.S. will be overcome.”

The pro-Erdogan nonprofit network in America includes:

  • The aforementioned Turkish Heritage Organization,
  • The DC-based Turkish American National Steering Committee,
  • The U.S. wing of the Independent Industrialists and Businessmen Association (MUSAID),
  • The New York City–based Turken Foundation,
  • The Turkish Coalition of America, and
  • The Turkish Cultural Foundation.

There is also significant overlap between the Diyanet mosques and the Ahiska Turkish American Council, the American Association of Crimean Turks, and the Turkish American Religious Foundation.

The pro-Erdogan network also uses PACs that donate to candidates.

A comprehensive study of the Turkish lobby by Ahmet Yayla, director of the Center for Homeland Security at DeSales University, concluded that the Erdogan regime is compounding its influence through U.S.-based organizations with ideological ties to Islamist groups like Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami.

Among the groups identified as Erdogan collaborators by Yayla are:

A complete lack of transparency surrounds the financial and political relationships among these entities and the Turkish government. At the time of Yayla’s 2020 report, none of the entities had disclosed Turkish funding nor registered as foreign agents as some are probably required to under FARA. However, beyond FARA, U.S. federal law “imposes no limits, restrictions, or transparency requirements on the receipt of foreign funding by NGOs operating in the United States” beyond those imposed on all Americans.

There is no indication that this lack of transparency has changed. A search of FARA filings for these entities yielded no results with the exception of the Turken Foundation, which registered on May 18, 2002.

The authoritarian Islamist government of Turkey is eager to expand its influence, and Erdogan is finding a hospitable environment in America’s nonprofit sector.


Appendix: Diyanet Mosques by State


  • Burlingame. Diyanet Mosque of San Francisco, also known as Diyanet Silicon Valley and Ertugrul Gazi Masjid. Its website says it is “authorized” by the Turkish American Religious Foundation and is fundraising to construct the mosque.


  • New Haven. Diyanet Mosque of New Haven
  • Thomaston. Diyanet Nour Mosque of Connecticut, also known as American Turkish Islamic Cultural Center.


  • Georgetown. Diyanet Mosque of Southern Delaware
  • New Castle. Diyanet Mosque of Delaware


  • Opa-Locka. The Diyanet Center of America website does not provide a name for the Diyanet branch in Florida but does provide an address. The address appears to match that of the Islamic Center of Greater Miami, also known as Masjid Miami Gardens. The mosque website identifies it as part of the Muslim Communities Association of South Florida Inc.

The Muslim Communities Association of South Florida is a member of the Islamic Society of North America, which the Justice Department has identified as an entity of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and designated as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Hamas-financing trial of the Holy Land Foundation.

The MCA also says that the titles of its properties are held by the North American Islamic Trust, which like ISNA was identified as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity and unindicted co-conspirator by the Justice Department. The Holy Land Foundation sent money to Hamas through a bank account jointly held by NAIT and ISNA.

The Islamic Center of Greater Miami showcases its Turkish support on its website, highlighting a Turkish chandelier gifted by the government of Turkey and delivered by the president of the Diyanet Center of America.


  • Alpharetta. Diyanet Mosque of Atlanta, also known as the Ahiska Turkish Community Center of Atlanta. Its Facebook page states it is a branch of the Ahiska Turkish American Council. Its tax-exempt status has been revoked for failing to file for three years.


  • Louisville. Diyanet Mosque of Kentucky, also known as the Ahiska Turks Community Center of Kentucky.


  • Hagerstown. Diyanet Mosque of Hagerstown, also known as the Ahiska Turkish American Association Corporation.
  • Lanham. Diyanet Center of America, also known as Turkish American Community Center.


  • Indian Orchard. Diyanet Mosque of Massachusetts Imam Bukhari, also known as the Turkish-American Society of Western Massachusetts.
  • Springfield. Diyanet Mosque of Springfield, also known as Ahiska Turkish American Community Center; Ahiska Turkish Association Inc.; and Ahiska Camii of West Springfield.

New Jersey

  • Cliffside Park. Bergen Diyanet Mosque Cultural Center, also known as the Turkish American Religious Foundation.
  • Monroeville. Diyanet Murat Mosque of South New Jersey, also known as New Jersey Murat Camii Mosque.
  • Paterson. Diyanet Mosque of Paterson, also known as Paterson Mevlana Cami.
  • Paterson. Diyanet Ulu Mosque of Paterson, also known as Ulu Camii.

New York

Brooklyn. Diyanet Mosque of Brooklyn Crimean Turks, also known as the American Association of Crimean Turks Mosque.

Brooklyn. Diyanet Mosque of Brooklyn, also known as the Eyup Sultan Cultural Center.

Burlington. Diyanet Mosque of Burlington Selimiye.

Jefferson Station. Diyanet Mosque of Long Island, also known as Long Island Mevlana Mosque.

Rochester. Diyanet Mosque of Rochester, also known as the Turkish Society of Rochester.

Sunnyside. Diyanet Mosque of Queens, also known as the Turkish Islamic Cultural Center and Mimar Sinan Mosque.

North Carolina

Stallings. Diyanet Mosque of Charlotte, also known as the Ahiska Turkish Community Center of Charlotte.


Dayton. Diyanet Mosque of Dayton Ahiskan Turks, also known as the Ahiska Turkish American Community Center.

Dayton. Diyanet Mosque of Dayton Osman Ghazi, also known as Osman Ghazi Mosque.


Portland. Diyanet Mosque of Portland, also known as the Ahiska Turkish Community Center of Portland.


Lancaster. Diyanet Mosque of Lancaster, also known as the Turkish Society of Lancaster.

Levittown. Diyanet Mosque of Levittown, also known as the Turkish American Muslim Cultural Association.

Philadelphia. Diyanet Mosque of Philadelphia, also known as the Turkish Ahiskan American Foundation.


Norfolk. Diyanet Mosque of Norfolk, also known as the Turkish American Religious Foundation-Virginia.

Ryan Mauro

Ryan Mauro is an investigative researcher for Capital Research Center. He is also an adjunct professor at Regent University and the former Director of Intelligence…
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