|IHH President Bulent Yildirim 370.(Photo by: REUTERS)|
'Turkey investigating IHH head for funding al-Qaida'
By JPOST.COM STAFF
Bülent Yildirim, a key figure behind the 2010 Gaza flotilla, under investigation for funding terror group, Turkish media reports.
Turkish legal authorities are investigating allegations that one of the key
figures behind the May 2010 Gaza flotilla, Bülent Yildirim, was involved in
transferring funds to al-Qaida, the Turkish daily Habertürk reported on
Yildirim is president of IHH, a Turkish charity that was one of
the main planners of the flotilla. On May 31, 2010, IDF naval commandos
raided one of the flotilla vessels attempting to break the blockade of the Gaza
Strip, the Mavi Marmara. They were attacked by activists on board, and in
turn killed nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists.
While Turkey has
accused Israel of unprovoked aggression and demanded an apology for the deaths,
Israel maintains that the commandos were confronted by violent IHH members when
they boarded the vessel, and that they acted in self-defense.
widely considered a terrorist organization by a number of bodies, including the
Israeli government, and has been accused of maintaining ties with a number of
According to the Habertürk report, special
prosecutors in both Istanbul and Diyarbakir, a large city in southeastern
Turkey, are conducting separate investigations into claims that Yildirim has
been secretly “providing financial aid to al-Qaida via his
IHH, short for Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and
Humanitarian Relief (Insani Yardim Vakfi), is an Islamic charity founded in the
mid-1990s to provide aid to Bosnia’s Muslims. Since then it has been
involved in charity operations in a number of Muslim and Middle Eastern
countries, including Indonesia, Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon, and in aid missions
to the Palestinian territories.
According to the Intelligence and
Information Center, an Israeli NGO, IHH is affiliated with Hamas and the Union
of the Good, an Islamic umbrella group affiliated with the Muslim
In 2006 a report issued by the Danish Institute for
International Studies stated that IHH maintained links with al-Qaida and a
number of “global jihad networks” during the 1990s. It also said the Turkish
government had launched an investigation into IHH in December 1997 after
receiving intelligence that it had bought automatic weapons from Islamist
The Danish report said in addition that following this
revelation, the Turkish government had launched a raid on the organization’s
Istanbul offices, where authorities found weapons, explosives and instructions
for bomb-making. It added that an examination of documents found at the IHH
office indicated the group was planning to take part in terrorist activities in
Afghanistan, Chechnya and Bosnia.
According to the study, a French
intelligence report found that in the mid-1990s Yildirim recruited soldiers for
jihad activities in a number of Muslim countries and that IHH transferred money,
firearms and explosives to jihadists there.
Ben Hartman contributed to