Comment: With the rhetorical and diplomatic firestorm unfolding in the wake of the fiasco staged by Israel in the Mediterranean, a number of things become obvious, including questions about how Israeli intelligence failed to grasp the inevitability of such an event, if extreme caution were not exercised.
And it wasn’t.
First, the IHH–the charity that was at the epicenter of events, doubles as a terror-assisting network.
When I first published a research paper four years ago with the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) on the Turkish Muslim charitable group Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), I didn’t imagine it would get much of a response outside the academic conference in which it was presented in Copenhagen. However, as a result of this weekend’s tragic Israeli raid on an IHH-sponsored flotilla of vessels attempting to break the ongoing blockade on Gaza, the group has suddenly jumped into the headlines, and has become a focus of intense debate over the intentions of the flotilla organizers and the controversial killing of at least 9 would-be participants by Israeli commandos.
Though my DIIS paper made no mention of IHH’s activities in Gaza or in support of suffering Palestinian refugees, some of those angered by the Israeli flotilla raid have instead turned their emotional animus on past critics of IHH, such as myself. While I certainly can’t speak with any authority on what took place on the Gaza flotilla boats, I’m rather mystified why the flotilla killings–whether right or wrong–would have any bearing on the factual question of whether the IHH has engaged in illicit financing and episodic support to extremist groups. The evidence in this regard is fairly weighty, and much of it comes directly from the Turkish government — not the United States, nor the Israelis.
On December 5, 1997, Turkish police raided the IHH headquarters office in Istanbul and arrested its principal leaders. Following their preliminary inquiry, on April 27, 1998, Turkish investigators launched a formal legal case against the IHH. According to a report produced by French counterterrorism magistrates, the inquiry was spurred by the sale of an AK-47 assault rifle to an IHH leader by “a member of the illegal organization VASAT.” Turkish police reported seizing a series of disturbing items from the IHH in Turkey, including an explosive device, two sticks of dynamite, bomb making instructions, and a “jihad flag.” The French magistrates report noted that:
“It appears that the detained members of IHH were going to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya... The essential goal of this Association was to illegally arm its membership for overthrowing democratic, secular, and constitutional order present in Turkey and replacing it with an Islamic state founded on the Shariah. Under the cover of this organization known under the name of IHH, [IHH leaders] acted to recruit veteran soldiers in anticipation of the coming holy war. In particular, some men were sent into war zones in Muslim countries in order to acquire combat experience. On the spot, the formation of a military unit was assured. In addition, towards the purpose of obtaining political support from these countries, financial aid was transferred [from IHH], as well as caches of firearms, knives, and pre-fabricated explosives.”
An official review of the phone records from the IHH’s office in Istanbul revealed two calls to the Bosnian Mujahideen Brigade unit headquarters in Zenica, five phone calls to a member of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) based in London, and at least one call to Anwar Shaaban’s notorious Islamic Cultural Institute in Milan, Italy.
The IHH’s connections to international terrorism have even surfaced in sworn witness testimony in the U.S. federal court system. During the trial of attempted Millenium bomber Ahmed Ressam, noted French counterterrorism magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere took the stand and testified that IHH had played “[a]n important role” in Ressam’s bomb plot targeting LAX. Under repeated questioning, Bruguiere insisted that “[t]here’s a rather close relation”: “The IHH is an NGO, but it was kind of a type of cover-up. in order to obtain forged documents and also to obtain different forms of infiltration for Mujahideen in combat. And also to go and gather[recruit] these Mujahideens. And finally, one of the last responsibilities that they had was also to be implicated or involved in weapons trafficking.”
None of this information is considered sensitive or secret, nor is it particularly difficult to come by. Turkish government officials have openly acknowledged as much in major Western media outlets. In August 1999, the governor of Istanbul was interviewed in the Washington Post after he personally ordered local IHH bank accounts frozen because of suspected criminal activity. He explained at the time, “All legal institutions may have some illegal connections. This might be the case here. If they don’t like it, they can appeal in court.”
To his credit, the former Istanbul governor here underscores another critical point. Contemporary terror finance networks are most effectively curtailed using accepted legal sanctions and transnational cooperation between regional allies. Incidents such as the deadly Gaza flotilla raid ultimately undermine the battle against illicit financing, and weaken shared international resolve to punish those who manipulate humanitarian relief as a cover to fund terrorism. The Israeli government must be more mindful in the future of the wider political repercussions its attempts at punitive actions can have, whether technically justified or not. Those repercussions impact not only the state of Israel, but also carry implicit costs for the United States and its European allies.
The milieu  that organized the Flotilla  is deeply tied to the Muslim Brotherhood , the Islamic fascist network that spawned al-Qaeda, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Note the presence in the flotilla milieu of interests tied to Youssef Qaradawi. One of the most influential Sunni imams, he is closely linked to the Bank al-Taqwa.
In addition, Al Jazeera  network (at the front of the media coverage of the event) is closely tied to the Brotherhood.
A Dutch Foundation tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and linked to a major Gaza flotilla organizer has been working with the the Turkish charity known as Insani Yardim Vakfi (aka IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief), the sponsor of the ship involved in the confrontation with Israeli naval forces. According to Dutch records, the Stichting (Foundation) KUDUS VAKFI was founded in 2003. Kudus Vakfi is translated from Turkish as “Jerusalem Foundation” and it appears that Kudus Vakfi is the same Foundation known earlier as the Stichting Jersalem (Jerusalem Foundation) and which is a likely successor organization to the Al-Aqsa Foundation Netherlands, whose assets were frozen in April 2003 by the Ministry of the Interior who stated that the organization was collecting money for Hamas and/or organizations related to Hamas that support or develop terrorist activities. . . .
. . . The Union of Good is a coalition of Islamic charities that provides financial support to both the Hamas “social” infrastructure, as well as its terrorist activities. It is headed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, [associated closely with Bank al-Taqwa–D.E.] and most of the trustees and member organizations are associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood. The Union of Good was banned by Israel in 2002 and was recently designated a terrorist entity by the United States, although neither Youssef Qaradawi nor any of the Trustees were similarly designated. Despite the fact that action has been taken against some of its member organizations in Europe, many of its other European member organizations continue to operate. Further, the Union of Good itself does not appear to be under investigation in Europe. . . .
. . . Other previous posts have also described the heavy participation  of the Global Muslim Brotherhood in the Gaza flotilla, the Muslim Brotherhood background  of the Al Jazeera journalist reporting from the Turkish ship involved in the confrontation, and the intent of the Global Muslim Brotherhood  to send another flotilla to Gaza.
It was clear what the flotilla and “peace activists” had in mind–the “Latest Incident.”
The supporters of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla had more than humanitarian intentions. The Gaza Freedom March made its motives clear in a statement before Monday’s deadly confrontation: “A violent response from Israel will breathe new life into the Palestine solidarity movement, drawing attention to the blockade.” . . .
So WHY did the Israelis fall so obtusely into this trap, in which they have performed as their worst enemies have wanted?! In future posts, we will explore some lines of speculation in this regard.