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.”