ATbar IHH: The Nonprofit Face of Jihadism. An In-Depth Review

IHH: The Nonprofit Face of Jihadism. An In-Depth Review

16/05/2019 | by Ahmet S Yayla  

IHH (The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief) is a Turkish NGO active in 135 countries and seemingly dedicated entirely to humanitarian aims. In fact, mounting evidence suggests that IHH also operates as a hidden arm of the Turkish government in the conflict zones of the Middle East and Southeast Asia. It has been designated as a terrorist organization by Israel since 2012 and has been investigated by European prosecutors as a key logistical supporter of Al Qaeda.

Established in 1992 and officially registered in Istanbul in 1995[1], IHH provides humanitarian relief in areas of war, earthquake, hunger, and conflicts. The IHH has held Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 2004. The IHH, in its own self-description, was founded as a volunteer organization to “deliver aid to all people who are in need, who had a catastrophe, who are victims of war, natural disaster, etc. or wounded, crippled, starved, homeless and persecuted thereof, wherever they are regardless of their religion, language, race or sect and to prevent the violation of the basic human rights and freedoms of those people.”[2]

Early IHH relief workers described themselves as sympathetic Muslim volunteers “who could not stay aloof to the Bosnian War that broke out in 1992.”[3] After 1992, IHH evolved into an official organization in 1995[4] . After establishing itself as a foundation[5] in Istanbul, Turkey[6], IHH started to focus on humanitarian needs linked to the war in Chechnya and the invasion of Iraq.[7] IHH has steadily increased its activism both in Turkey and around the world since 1995, gaining status as one of Turkey’s most influential NGOs. “The IHH has become a trademark in the humanitarian aid field and well-known by both, governments and people across the world” according to Bulent Yildirim, the founder and president of IHH.[8]  Today, IHH operates in five continents, stretching from Turkey to 135 countries and territories around the world.[9] 

IHH prioritizes relief operations in war-zone territories, regions affected by natural disasters and impoverished regions.[10]   

Stated IHH missions include:

  • “to give all needy and oppressed people the chance of a dignified life while delivering aid wherever they are with an understanding of universal brotherhood in order to help prevent evil and to let the good and justice prevail”
  • “to work toward stopping the policies and activities persecuting and discriminating people in order to prevent violations of their basic rights and freedoms”
  • “to keep up practicing unchanging values in a changing world”
  • “to let the good will rule everywhere”[11]












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