You are here:   Dispatches > ONLINE Only: Ankara's Proxy

Bruguière and Ricard also accused I.H.H. of making numerous phone calls to a known al-Qaeda safe house in Milan and of allying with Abu Ma'ali, a former member of al-Qaeda's shura, or command council, who is sometimes referred to as a "junior Osama bin Laden."  Bruguière later testified at the 2001 federal U.S. trial of Ahmed Ressam - the convicted al-Qaeda agent in Canada who tried to import over 450 kilograms of explosives into the United States in 1999 in order to blow up Los Angeles International Airport on the eve of the millennium - that I.H.H. played an "important role" in this potentially catastrophic terrorist attack.

I.H.H. has spent the bulk of the last decade fundraising for Hamas.  It is now an affiliate of the larger, Saudi-based umbrella organisation known as the Union of Good, which was founded by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who has been barred from both the United States and Great Britain for inciting terrorism. The express aim of the Union of Good is to fill Hamas' coffers via a network of international Islamic fronts. In 2008, the same year that Israel banned I.H.H. from operating inside the country, the Union was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department a front for "strengthen[ing] Hamas' political and military position in the West Bank and Gaza, including by: (i) diverting charitable donations to support Hamas members and the families of terrorist operatives; and (ii) dispensing social welfare and other charitable services on behalf of Hamas." All of I.H.H.'s U.S. holdings were subsequently frozen and American citizens prohibited from engaging in any transactions with the NGO.

About a month after the Mavi Marmara incident, Philip Gordon, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs chided Ankara for its recent vote against a U.S-backed United Nations Security Council resolution on sanctions against Iran - Turkey having preferred a toothless deal with Brazil for dealing with the Islamic Republic's nuclear program - as well as the country's increasingly belligerent anti-American posturing.  On June 21, an open letter in support of Israel signed by 87 US senators was sent to U.S. President Barack Obama and recommended that the administration consider putting I.H.H. on  the list of foreign terrorist organisations. And earlier this month, Germany banned I.H.H.'s European headquarters in Berlin and German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière accused the charity of "support[ing] a terrorist organisation with money supposedly donated for charitable purposes."

Remarkably, I.H.H. has been quite candid about the purpose of its philanthropy. According to Ahmet Emin Dag, one of its senior officials, the charity donates around $20 million each year to Palestinians, equivalent to 40 percent of its total spending.  Half of theses funds are used in the West Bank and Jerusalem and the other half in Hamas-ruled Gaza. Mehmet Kaya, I.H.H.'s Gaza representative, gave an interview with the New York Times following the flotilla raid in which he admitted, "We only work through Hamas, although we don't limit our aid to its followers... We consider Israel and the United Nations to be the terrorists, not Hamas."

Since Erdogan's AKP won Turkey's national election in 2002, I.H.H. has been systematically rehabilitated. All legal investigations into the charity were cancelled and, according to Svante Cornell, a Swedish security expert who works for the Stockholm-based Central Asia-Caucus Institute, "I.H.H. operates joint projects with the Turkish Agency for International Development, and is reported to have been used by the government in order to shore up Turkey's position in northern Iraq by distributing aid to populations there."

View Full Article

Post your comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
More Dispatches
Popular Standpoint topics