Special counsel Bob Mueller is investigating an alleged plot by disgraced former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn to kidnap a Muslim cleric who lives in the United States and turn him over to Turkey for millions of dollars, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., apparently discussed a plan to forcibly kidnap Fethullah Gulen, a foe of the Turkish government who legally resides in Pennsylvania, and deliver him to Turkey for $15 million, according to the report.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long urged the United States to extradite Gulen, accusing him of being involved in a coup attempt.
Flynn reportedly met with Turkish government officials at the “21” Club in New York City to discuss Gulen’s removal.
One of the ideas floated at the meeting was to transport Gulen on a private plane to a Turkish prison island, according to the report.
The meeting came after an earlier discussion in a hotel room which was also attended by former CIA Director James Woolsey.
According to Woolsey, the forcible removal of Gulen was discussed as “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away.”
Erdogan’s son-in-law and the Turkish foreign minister were also present, according to the report.
Flynn’s ties to Turkey have long been a focus for federal investigators. Flynn is reported to have lobbied on behalf of Turkish interests both before and after the election and did not disclose that work until March, weeks after he was forced to resign in disgrace for lying about his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
He had served as national security adviser for just 24 days.
Not only is he a focus in the Mueller probe, military and congressional investigators are also looking into whether he lied about his ties to both Turkey and Russia and whether his connections to the two influenced him while he was advising Trump.
According to the Journal, Flynn was “prepared to use his influence in the White House” to push for the extradition of Gulen, a legal US resident.
Turkey believed they had found an ally in Flynn after unsuccessfully lobbying the Obama administration for Gulen’s extradition.
On the day of the presidential election, Flynn wrote an op-ed at The Hill praising Erdogan and calling Gulen a “shady Islamic mullah” and “radical Islamist,” alleging that he might be running “a dangerous sleeper terror network.”
“We should not provide him safe haven,” Flynn wrote.
Flynn’s company has been paid $530,000 for lobbying that “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.”
Investigators are also looking into whether that work violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which is also among the charges brought against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his top deputy, Rick Gates.
Flynn has reportedly sought immunity from the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
“General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit,” his attorney, Robert Kelner, said in March.