The lead organisation involved in organising a flotilla of aid ships bound for the Palestinian Authority has itself been investigated by Turkish authorities for its involvement in terrorism, including the purchasing of weapons and financing of terror attacks.
After the initial shock of the loss of life and injuries involving the flotilla has cleared, some truths have emerged from the madness:
â– The flotillaâ€™s objective was not deliver aid but was to smash through the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza which is designed to minimise the smuggling of weapons into the area. The IHH group has previously financed the purchase of weapons for terror groups within al-Qaeda;
â– A secondary objective was to generate negative publicity for Israel as it tries to keep weapons out of troublespots like Gaza.
â– The Israeli authorities already deliver an enormous amount of aid to Gaza and offered the flotilla organisers the opportunity to take their cargo to a port where the goods would be checked for weapons and explosives and shipped immediately to Gaza.
â– Israeli soldiers were attacked by knives, metal pipes and other weapons by those on-board ships in the flotilla. If anyone tried this on members of the Australian Defence Force, does anyone doubt what would happen next?
Israeli authorities had very good reason to be concerned about the motives and form of groups like IHH that had organised the flotilla.
A study by the Danish Institute for International Studies [pdf] publishedin 2006 the role of Islamic charities in international terrorist recruitment and financing.
It reveals that the Turkish organisation for Human Rights, Liberties, and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) is intimately connected with al-Qaeda:
Turkish authorities began their own domestic criminal investigation of IHH as early as December 1997, when sources revealed that leaders of IHH were purchasing automatic weapons from other regional Islamic militant groups.43 IHHâ€™s bureau in Istanbul was thoroughly searched, and its local officers were arrested. Security forces uncovered an array of disturbing items, including firearms, explosives, bomb-making instructions, and a â€œjihad flag.â€ After analyzing seized IHH documents, Turkish authorities concluded that â€œdetained members of IHH were going to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya.â€44
According to a French intelligence report, the terrorist infiltration of IHH extended to its most senior ranks. The report, written by famed counterterrorism magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere, revealed that IHH President Bulent Yildrim had directly conspired in the mid-1990s to â€œrecruit veteran soldiers in anticipation of the coming holy war [jihad]. In particular, some men were sent into war zones in Muslim countries in order to acquire combat experience.â€45
Furthermore, in the hopes of â€œobtaining political support from these countries, financial aid was transferred [on behalf of IHH], as well as caches of firearms, knives, and pre-fabricated explosives.â€46 An examination of IHHâ€™s phone records in Istanbul showed repeated telephone calls in 1996 to an Al-Qaida guesthouse in Milan and various Algerian terrorist operatives active elsewhere in Europe â€“ including the notorious Abu el-Ma`ali, who has been subsequently termed by U.S. officials as a â€œjunior Osama Bin Laden.â€47
The terrorist activities of this â€œcharityâ€ have also come out in court proceedings as detailed in documents [pdf] from the prosecution of terrrorist money launderers in the United States:
During the April 2001 trial of would-be Millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam, federal prosecutors called French counter-terrorism magistrate Judge Jean-Louis Brugiere as an expert witness. The transcript of his testimony states that Brugiere testified that the Turkish group IHH had played "[a]n important role" in the Millennium bomb plot. When asked, he stated "[t]here’s a rather close relation."
According to Brugiere, the IHH is located in Istanbul,Turkey. He stated:
The IHH is an NGO, but it was kind of a type of cover-up in order to obtain forged documents and also to obtain different forms of infiltration for Mujahideen in combat. And also to go and gather these Mujahideens. And finally, one of the last responsibilities that they had was also to be implicated or involved in weapons trafficking.