Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Gaza Clash: Turkish Charity’s Terror Links

The United Nations Security Council can’t decide how to sanction Iran or punish North Korea over killing 46 South Korean Sailors in last month’s unprovoked attack on one of its submarines. But on Monday, the UN called an emergency session to take Israel to task over the boarding of a Turkish registered boat on its way to deliver aid to Gaza which led to at least nine deaths following violent altercations between Israeli forces and a significant number of armed protestors.

Yet the Turkish group that funded and ran the boat the Mavi Marmara, where the confrontation occurred is documented as having ties to terrorists, was named in federal court papers as playing a role in the failed millennium bomb plot and is named in a C.I.A. report in 1996 as having links to terrorist groups. The Foundation for Human Rights and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) is a Muslim charity and non-government organization (NGO) that was formed in 1992 with the goal of assisting Muslims in Bosnia. Since then it has branched out to many places including Lebanon, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia and the Palestinian territories.

According to a report by the Israeli based Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, IHH is a “radical Islamic Organization with an anti-Western orientation.” Written by Jonathan Fighel, the report says “besides its legitimate philanthropic activities, it supports radical Islamic networks, including Hamas, and that at least in the past, even global jihad networks.”

Fighel’s report also notes that the C.I.A. report that was declassified in 2001 and titled “International Islamic NGOs and Links to Terrorism” states that the IHH had links with extremist groups in Iran and Algeria and was either active or facilitating activities of terrorist groups operating in Bosnia.

IHH's Oguzan Ulas, told Fox News from its headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey that his organization has “no relation to radical Islamic groups,” and that it was “a rubbish accusation.” Ulas blamed this on a smear campaign by the Israelis against his group. As to his organization’s support of Hamas he said that it disagrees with the U.S. government’s designation of Hamas as a terrorist group and that IHH “openly accepts Hamas.”

Steve Emerson, a leading terrorism expert, tells Fox News that IHH was banned by Israel in 2008 for its affiliation with Hamas and the so-called “Union of Good.” The Union of Good is a coalition of Islamic groups led by Muslim Brotherhood leader Yousef Al Qaradawi who has issued Fatwas calling for the killing of Americans and Jews.

Emerson who heads the Investigative Project on Terrorism points to U.S. Court documents which reveal IHH played “an important role” in the Millennium bomb plot. The Millennium bomb plot was foiled following the arrest of Ahmed Ressam who had planned to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport.

During Ressam’s trial, federal prosecutors called Jean Louis Brugiere, a French counter-terrorism expert and Magistrate, to testify. As part of his testimony he told the court that “The IHH is an NGO (non-governmental organization), 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.”

According to court documents, he went on to say when talking about the cell involved in the Millennium plot that the apartment they used was “a conspiratorial flat.” All this was based on phone calls placed from that apartment “particularly to Turkey and Istanbul and I am talking about the IHH.”

IHH has offices in Gaza and the West Bank and according to reports in Israel has transferred money to Hamas in support of its goals. IHH leadership has also met with Hamas Chairman Khaled Mashal and other top Hamas leaders. Hamas is on the U.S. State Department list of designated terrorist organizations.

Emerson says IHH’s financial and political support for Hamas is “very troubling” and told Fox News that “it’s surprising that IHH has not been designated (as a terrorist group) by the U.S. government.”

Late last night the U.N. Security Council issued a Presidential Statement which condemned yesterday's action and called for an investigation into yesterday's events.

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