US may list Turkish IHH as terror group

In written letter, 87 US senators call on Obama to investigate group.

mavi marmara weapons 311 (photo credit: IDF)
mavi marmara weapons 311
(photo credit: IDF)
The US State Department is considering adding Turkish Muslim charity organization IHH (The Foundation for Human Rights and Humanitarian Relief) to the list of foreign terrorist organizations, Fox News reported Thursday. The report came after the organization financed and operated the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara on which nine people were killed in a confrontation with IDF soldiers. 
According to the Fox News report, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner explained that the US government is examining whether the nongovernmental organization will be considered a terrorist group.
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"I believe we are looking at the IHH, but it's a long process to designate something a foreign terrorist organization and ...there's nothing to announce on that," Toner said.
Despite some resistance from within the Obama administration, Fox News sources said that sections of the US Treasury Department are actively investigating the Turkish Muslim charity organization in an attempt to list it as a terror group. The Treasury Department has voiced worries about IHH with Turish officials in the past, yet refused to comment on the alleged considerations.
The IHH was recognized by US federal court papers in its role in a failed bomb plot of Los Angeles International Airport 10 years ago. A CIA report in 1996 classifies the group as having ties to terrorist groups. 
The group was created in 1992 with the intended goal of aiding Bosnian Muslims but since then, it has evolved and spread to many locations throughout the world including Lebanon, Pakistan, Sudan, Somali and the Palestinian territories.
The US State and Treasury Departments' investigations follow a letter written by a bipartisan group made up of 87 US senators to US President Obama in June in which the senators called upon Obama not to waiver his administration's support for Israel. The letter also requested Obama investigate IHH.
"We are deeply concerned about the IHH's role in this incident and have additional questions about Turkey and any connections to Hamas," the letter read. "The IHH is a member of a group of Muslim charities, the Union of Good, which was designated by the US Treasury Department as a terrorist organization. The Union of Good was created by, and strongly supports Hamas, which has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department. We recommend that your administration consider whether the IHH should be put on the list of foreign terrorist organizations, after an examination by the intelligence community, the State Department, and the Treasury Department."
Once designating IHH as a terror group, the Turkish government "will be between a rock and a hard place," Dr. Soner Cagaptay, senior fellow and director of the Turkish research program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, told Fox News.
"Will it ban IHH, to which it has close ties? Or will it choose to ignore the US designation, doing something quite unfitting a NATO ally, therefore creating a serious rift in bilateral ties?" speculated Cagaptay.
Fox News had not received a response from the Turkish Embassy in Washington after the network questioned the possibility of adding IHH as a terror group.