US concerned over IHH-Hamas ties

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

pj crowley 311 (photo credit: AP)
pj crowley 311
(photo credit: AP)
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.
“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 ledby Israel, with the possibility of international participation, despitecalls from many countries for an independent process.
“We continue to believe that Israel is in the best position to leadthis investigation,” he said. “We will continue to talk to Israel andother countries about possible international participation.” But hewould not address whether the IDF-led investigation that Israel planswould satisfy the American demands.
“We support an investigation that meets international standards. Thereare a number of ways of doing that. We’ll be talking to Israel abouthow it can best lead an investigation that is widely viewed as credibleby the international community,” he said. “I’m not going to prejudgehow 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.
“Before there’s even an opportunity for investigation, this resolutionput the complete responsibility on Israel. We thought that wasinappropriate,” he explained. “We thought this was a rush to judgment.”
When pressed on why Israel would be the best body to lead theinvestigation, 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 ofinvestigating a matter than involved its forces.”
He concluded, “Can Israel conduct a fair, transparent, credible, investigation? The answer is yes.