IDF: Global Jihad links on flotilla

Fifty 'Mavi Marmara' passengers tied to global jihad network.

Gaza boats 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Gaza boats 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Dozens of passengers who were aboard the Mavi Marmara Turkish passengership are suspected of having connections with global jihad-affiliatedterrorist organizations, defense officials said on Tuesday, amidgrowing concerns that Turkish warships would accompany a futureflotilla to the Gaza Strip.
According to the defense officials,the IDF has identified about 50 passengers on the ship who could haveterrorist connections with global jihad-affiliated groups.
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Duringits searches of the Mavi Marmara on Tuesday, the military alsodiscovered a cache of bulletproof vests and night-vision goggles, aswell as gas masks. On Monday morning, at least nine foreign activistswere killed during the navy’s takeover of the Mavi Marmara, which wastrying to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The groupof over 50 passengers with possible terror connections have refused toidentify themselves and were not carrying passports. Many of them werecarrying envelopes packed with thousands of dollars in cash.
Themilitary is working to identify the passengers and is looking into thepossibility that some of them have been involved in terror attacks.Some of them are apparently known Islamic extremists.
“This isthe group that was behind the violent lynch against the navalcommandos,” a defense official said. “They came on board the shipprepared and after they had trained for the expected navy takeover.”
LateTuesday, there were reports that Issam al-Budur, Jordan’s consul inIsrael, reached an agreement with Israel according to which anothergroup of 124 detained flotilla activists would be taken by bus toJordan and sent from there to their home countries. The detainees areJordanian, Mauritanian, Moroccan, Kuwaiti, Pakistani, Indonesian andSyrian.
Meanwhile Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Israel not to test Ankara’s patience.
“Turkey’shostility is as strong as its friendship is valuable,” he said. “Israelin no way can legitimize this murder, it cannot wash its hand of thisblood.”
This comment, officials said, could signify a change inTurkish military posture in the event that another flotilla isdispatched to the Gaza Strip. One official said that the chances thatTurkey would send navy ships were slim – due to its membership in NATO– but that the issue was of great concern.
“This is a definite possibility that we need to prepare for,” a senior defense official said.
Theflotilla that arrived late on Sunday night comprised six ships, andanother two ships, including the Rachel Corrie, are expected to attemptto enter Israeli waters in the coming days.
Greta Berlin of theFree Gaza Movement, which organized the flotilla, said that twovessels, one a cargo ship and another carrying about three dozenpassengers, would arrive in the region late this week or early nextweek.
“This initiative is not going to stop,” she said from thegroup’s base in Cyprus. “We think eventually Israel will get some kindof common sense. They’re going to have to stop the blockade of Gaza,and one of the ways to do this is for us to continue to send the boats.”
IrishPrime Minister Brian Cowen described the Rachel Corrie as Irish-ownedand said it should be allowed to finish its mission, according toReuters. The ship was carrying 15 activists, including a northern IrishNobel Peace laureate.
“The government has formally requested the Israeli government to allowthe Irish-owned ship... to be allowed to complete its journey unimpededand discharge its humanitarian cargo in Gaza,” Cowen told members ofparliament in Dublin.
Navy sources said that the ships sailing toward Gaza would beintercepted the same way the flotilla was stopped on Monday morning,although it had yet to be decided if the operation would be carried outby Shayetet 13, the navy’s commando unit.
“We are tracking the ships and are under orders to stop them,” a top navy officer said.
According to the sources, in a future operation, the navy would use more force.
“We boarded the ship [the Mavi Marmara] and were attacked as if it werea war,” one officer said. “That will mean that we will have to comeprepared in the future as if it were a war.”