Terror Flotilla Part I: Turkey and the Terrorist IHH Organization – Champions of Hamas

This is the first installment of a two-part series on the terrorist campaign, supported by Turkey’s Islamic-supremacist government, to break Israel’s blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. Part II will run here on Ordered Liberty on Monday. As further discussed in the introduction to this series (here), Israel, under pressure from the Obama administration, has apologized to Turkey for defending itself against the aggression of a purported “peace flotilla” which, under the direction of Turkish jihadists aboard the Mavi Marmara, provoked a violent clash with Israeli forces in 2010.


Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s top sharia jurist, has notoriously issued fatwas calling for suicide bombings against Israel and violent jihad against American troops and support personnel in Iraq. One of his many important Qaradawi enterprises is the Union for Good (sometimes translated as the “Union of Good”), a coalition of Islamic “charities” established after the outbreak of the second Palestinian Intifada against Israel in late 2000. The Union for Good has long been formally designated as a foreign terrorist organization under American law. To provide it with funding or other assistance is deemed material support to terrorism, a serious crime.

Nevertheless, a Turkish “charity” known as the Humanitarian Relief Foundation or IHH (İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı) is a member organization of Qaradawi’s Union for Good. In truth, IHH is a jihadist organization camouflaged as a global do-gooder – much of the camouflage coming courtesy of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist government in Turkey, and of the United Nations, which has recognized IHH as one of hundreds of “humanitarian” Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

Founded in the early Nineties by Osman Atalay, a Turkish Islamist who fought in the jihad in Bosnia, the outfit has longstanding ties to Muslim Brotherhood satellites across the world. Its connections to Turkey’s Islamic supremacist political parties, particularly the Refah party and, later, the AKP, are so intimate that the Turkish press has referred to IHH, tongue firmly in cheek, as a “GNGO” – as in, Governmental Non-Governmental Organization. It claims to have an annual budget of about $100 million. Whatever the true amount is, the IHH priority is Islamization, not charity. And it doesn’t just work the financial end; as we shall see, IHH operatives also dabble in the jihad’s grislier aspects.

In a rare exhibition of bipartisan clarity, the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly in June 2010 to recommend that the Obama administration investigate IHH in anticipation of formally designating it as a terrorist organization. No wonder: IHH has received funding from the Success Foundation, an organization headed by the now-convicted terrorist financier Abdurahman Alamoudi. It has also gotten donations from the International Islamic Relief Organization, a Saudi “charity” whose leaders have included Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law, Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, and two of whose branches are formally designated as foreign terrorist organizations under American law. IHH uses some of the money it raises to subsidize the families of Hamas suicide bombers.


Moreover, as the Wall Street Journal has reported, a French terrorism investigation in the 1990s determined that IHH has provided logistical support (such as phony travel documents, safe haven, and possibly firearms) to terrorists. Jean-Louis Bruguiere, the French investigative magistrate who handled the case, contends that the IHH was complicit in the jihadist “Millennium plot” to bomb Los Angeles International Airport in late 1999, and was “basically helping al Qaeda when bin Laden started to want to target U.S. soil.” A French intelligence report further asserts that IHH phone records show repeated calls in 1996 to an al Qaeda guesthouse in Milan. The Obama State Department will not confirm IHH’s al Qaeda ties, but it has acknowledged that IHH officials have consulted with senior Hamas figures at rendezvous in Turkey, Syria and Gaza over the last several years. In May 2011, IHH added its voice to other Islamist groups in Turkey’s “Islamic democracy” by denouncing the U.S. military’s killing of Osama bin Laden, labeling it “American terrorism.”

Despite this record, or, more accurately, because of it, the IHH membership list reads like a Who’s Who in Erdogan’s AKP. [The AKP is the ruling Islamist “Justice and Development Party]. IHH’s former chairman, Eyup Fatsa, is an AKP member of Parliament, and is believed by Israeli intelligence to have forged the alliance between IHH and AKP in the late Nineties. According to the New York Times, the IHH-AKP roster also includes IHH founder Zeyid Aslan, a member of the Turkish Parliament who heads the Turkey-Palestine Interparliamentary Friendship Group; Ahmet Faruk Unsal, who served five years in Parliament after being elected in the AKP victory of 2002; Mehmet Emin Sen, the former AKP mayor of a township in Anatolia; Murat Mercan, a senior party official and chairman of the Turkish Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, and, Ali Yandir, the AKP official who runs the Istanbul City Municipality Transportation Corporation – a bureaucratic connection of considerable significance, as we shall see when we get to the Gaza flotilla controversy.


IHH often coordinates with Prime Minister Erdogan’s office and campaigns vigorously for him, shoring up critical support from Turkish Islamists, particularly in the merchant class. In addition, the organization has received awards for excellence from AKP government officials, including Bulent Arinc, formerly the speaker of Parliament and now Erdogan’s deputy prime minister. As nicely captured by Turkey’s widely read daily, Hurriyet News, “There can be no mistake that the Erdogan government is morally and politically behind this group.”

Breaking the Blockade

After Hamas’s 2008 rocket siege prompted Israel’s responsive Operation Cast Lead, which Erdogan lambasted as a “crime against humanity,” Sheikh Qaradawi exhorted Muslims the world over to observe a “Day of Anger.” IHH mobilized to assist Hamas. Zeyd Aslan, the aforementioned IHH trustee and leading AKP parliamentarian, accused Israel of “genocide” against the Palestinians. IHH leader Bulen Yildirim, who enjoys warm relations with Erdogan, met with Hamas’s top political official, Khaled Mashaal, in Syria before attending a Hamas rally in Gaza. There, Yildirim proclaimed, “All of those who do not stand by the Palestinian people will meet their end and destruction,” and that “all the Islamic people will demand that their leaders become like Recep Tayyip Erdogan.” [1]

In May 2009, IHH cosponsored a “World Popular Conference for the Support of Palestine” in Istanbul. Featured were Qaradawi, Yildirim, AKP officials Aslan and Cemal Yilmaz Demir, representatives from the violent jihadist groups Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and an array of global Muslim Brotherhood grandees, including Ghannouchi of Tunisia, Jamal Badawi, a pioneer of the Brotherhood’s American network, and Mohammed Akram Adlounisecretary-general of the al-Quds [Jerusalem] International Institution and author of the “Explanatory Memorandum” outlining the Brotherhood’s “grand jihad” to destroy the West. Steven Merley of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, provides the flavor of the rally. Sheikh Qaradawi insisted that to help the Palestinian “resistance” is “not a contribution – it is an obligation” to be satisfied by “financial means.” Adlouni, meanwhile, lionized Erdogan for tearing into Israel’s president  [Shimon Peres] at Davos, reaffirming that “Turkey is still the caliphate as the center of our lives in our heart. I wish all the Arab countries would follow Turkey’s example by taking this stance. Israel is trying to Judaize Jerusalem!”[2] [On a panel with Peres, Erdogan had railed, “President Peres, you are old, and your voice is loud out of a guilty conscience. When it comes to killing, you know very well how to kill. I know well how you hit and kill children on beaches.”]


By late 2009, IHH joined a coalition of Islamist and Leftist organizations, led by Viva Palestina and the Free Gaza Movement, in a confederation to break what they describe as Israel’s “siege of Gaza.” Front and center of the scheme was George Galloway, a radical Leftist and notorious Hamas supporter who was reelected to the British Parliament in 2012. The coalition’s modus operandi was (and, as this is written, remains) to organize ostensible “humanitarian aid” caravans, for the true purpose of challenging the restrictions around Gaza’s borders.

It is worth remembering why these restrictions – tightly guarded land crossings, closely patrolled air space, and a sea blockade – were put in place. In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip, territory it had captured from Egypt during wars of Arab-Muslim aggression designed to destroy the Jewish state. The withdrawal, which involved the painful dismantling of settlements and forced evacuation of Israeli citizens, was an olive branch extended to Palestinians and their jihadist leaders. Common sense, of course, says that appeasing terrorists results only in more terrorism. More terrorism is precisely what Israel got.

Hamas characteristically took the concession as weakness rather than civility. The violent jihad, involving thousands of rocket attacks, only intensified. Israel abided even this campaign while under intense international pressure to pretend that Hamas’s rival Palestinian faction, the marginally less rabid Fatah, was a worthy negotiating partner. But when Hamas followed up its “democratic” electoral victory in early 2006 by forcibly ousting Fatah from Gaza in the June 2007 coup, Israel had no choice but to seal the parts of Gaza’s borders that it controls. Egypt, too, shares a border with Gaza, but the Mubarak regime in Egypt simultaneously sealed it due to what the U.S. Congressional Research Service described, with unwitting prescience, as “concern for the possibly destabilizing effects of Hamas’s relations with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which the government of President Mubarak considers a threat.”


The vital purposes of the blockade are obvious – at least to anyone who is neither an Islamic supremacist nor a transnational progressive living safely in the West: namely, protect Israeli citizens from suicide terrorism, prevent arms shipments from reaching the jihadists, and pressure the Palestinians into real negotiations. Alas, the latter would call for acceptance of two conditions Hamas, in its incorrigible anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, is too barbaric to contemplate: conceding Israel’s right to exist and renouncing terrorism (meaning, truly renounce it, without the deceptive caveat that “resistance” is … um, kosher).

Even the U.N., though notoriously quick to condemn Israeli defense measures, acknowledged the blockade’s propriety in a lengthy 2011 special report. By contrast, the portrayal of the blockade by Erdogan & Co. as a humanitarian catastrophe – one that purportedly renders Gaza a “concentration camp” – takes propaganda to the level of obscenity.

Israel liberally permits the importation of food, medicine, other necessities, and many luxury items. What it bars are munitions and “dual-use” items that would materially support Hamas and the jihadist campaign by which Palestinians choose to be the enemies of their own prosperity. There is no humanitarian reason to challenge the blockade because Israel liberally allows humanitarian deliveries after they undergo an inspection. Yet, echoing Qaradawi, Galloway bellowed that, in the wake of Operation Cast Lead, “actions speak louder than words” and that the best anti-Israel strategy was “to try to create a siege.”

This is exactly what the Leftist-Islamist coalition did, to disastrous effect, in January 2010. A convoy launching from London in early December 2009, carrying 80 vehicles loaded with what was described as “medical, humanitarian and educational aid,” was enthusiastically greeted in Istanbul less than two weeks later. Top Erdogan government officials, including the deputy prime minister, foreign minister, and the speaker of parliament, feted a convoy delegation that included Galloway, IHH President Yildirim, and the aforementioned Aslan (honcho of both the IHH and AKP). Thereafter, IHH merged another 62 vehicles into the convoy, packed with similar cargo. The full caravan set out on the drive to Gaza, by way of Syria, Jordan, and finally Egypt. Along for the ride were over 200 Turkish citizens (about half the total in the convoy), including several senior AKP members. Prominent among the latter was Murat Marjan, chairman of the Turkish Parliament’s foreign affairs committee.


In Egypt, the convoy endeavored to enter Gaza through the Rafah Crossing. The Mubarak government, however, refused to allow the entire convoy to cross into the Strip, insisting that some of the vehicles would have to try entering through Israel. An angry confrontation resulted, with agitators rebuking Egyptian riot troops as pawns of the Zionist enemy. Demonstrators began pelting the troops with stones, prompting them to open fire. In the ensuing melee, a Palestinian gunman shot an Egyptian soldier to death, while two Palestinian demonstrators were wounded and dozens of other people were injured.

The Egyptian government relented and allowed all convoy participants to enter Gaza briefly – to deliver their wares and leave immediately – only after top officials in Erdogan’s government, including Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, interceded with their counterparts in Cairo. Once in Gaza, the AKP government officials in tow were warmly embraced by Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s Gaza chief. Haniyeh is formally recognized by Erdogan’s government as the “Palestinian Prime Minister,” which is what taking the Islamic “democracy train” to the jihadist coup station will get you. Alluding to the AKP emir’s upbraiding of Shimon Peres at Davos, Haniyeh yipped, “We still haven’t forgotten Prime Minister Erdogan’s courageous act in the face of Israel’s attacks and blockade.” “With the new policy Turkey has been pursuing,” he added, “the Middle East is also being reshaped.”



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