US concerned over IHH-Hamas ties

State Department: Links between al-Qaida, IHH "can't be validated."

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
June 3, 2010 03:49
2 minute read.
US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

pj crowley 311. (photo credit: AP)

 
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WASHINGTON – The US government confirmed on Wednesday that the Turkish aid organization behind the ship Israel commandeered Monday had contacts with Hamas, and expressed deep concern over that relationship.

The United States considers Hamas a terrorist organization, though officials noted yesterday that the Turkish aid group, Insani Yardim Vakfi, known by its Turkish initials IHH, had not been designated as a foreign terrorist organization.

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“We know that IHH representatives have met with senior Hamas officials in Turkey, Syria and Gaza over the past three years,” State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said Wednesday. “That is obviously of great concern to us.”

However, when it came to reports that IHH has ties to Al Qaida, Crowley said that was something the US “cannot validate.”

Crowley on Wednesday also reaffirmed US support for a “prompt, credible, transparent, impartial” investigation into the incident led by Israel, with the possibility of international participation, despite calls from many countries for an independent process.

“We continue to believe that Israel is in the best position to lead this investigation,” he said. “We will continue to talk to Israel and other countries about possible international participation.” But he would not address whether the IDF-led investigation that Israel plans would satisfy the American demands.

“We support an investigation that meets international standards. There are a number of ways of doing that. We’ll be talking to Israel about how it can best lead an investigation that is widely viewed as credible by the international community,” he said. “I’m not going to prejudge how the investigation proceeds.”

He, did, though reject the idea of a fact-finding mission led by the UN Human Rights Council, which the council approved over a no vote by the United States.

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“Before there’s even an opportunity for investigation, this resolution put the complete responsibility on Israel. We thought that was inappropriate,” he explained. “We thought this was a rush to judgment.”

When pressed on why Israel would be the best body to lead the investigation, given that it is the country accused of wrongdoing, Crowley replied that “Israel is a vibrant democracy. It has effective, competent institutions of government, and Israel is fully capable of investigating a matter than involved its forces.”

He concluded, “Can Israel conduct a fair, transparent, credible, investigation? The answer is yes.

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