ATbar The IHH: Humanitarianism, Terrorism, and Policy Ambiguities
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The IHH: Humanitarianism, Terrorism, and Policy Ambiguities

30/12/2010 | by Multiple Authors  

By A.E. Stahl *and Sheena Reiss** 

Purpose of Article

On 22 September 2010, a 3-member fact-finding panel with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) issued a verdict on Israel’s military action regarding the May 2010 Gaza flotilla.[1] A week later the UNHRC endorsed the panel’s report.[2] Just over two weeks following that report, Turkish families requested that the International Criminal Court (ICC) undertake an investigation into the military action on board one of the vessels.[3] The majority of the UNHRC’s investigation and subsequent verdict are related specifically to the Mavi Marmara vessel – a ship purchased by the Turkish IHH from the Turkish government, sailing under the flag of the Comoros Islands. It was on this ship that nine Turkish activists were killed. The Mavi Marmara was one of six ships to partake in the flotilla and was co-organized by the Turkish Islamist organization – the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH). The purpose of the flotilla was to attempt to break an Israeli-imposed naval blockade in order to reach the Gaza Strip. A panel comprised of three individuals handed down the verdict: Desmond de Silva, Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, and Mary Shanthi Dairiam. Israel chose not to involve itself in this specific investigation, stating that it would cooperate with a UN investigative panel appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, including the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Geoffrey Palmer and former Colombian President, Alvaro Uribe; that panel has yet to release its findings.[4] The 3-member panel’s end result is a 56 page report, described as a “fact-finding” mission concerning the results “from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships” in route to the Gaza Strip.[5] Further, in the UNHRC’s conclusions it deemed that Israeli military conduct vis-à-vis flotilla activists (i.e. Mavi Marmara) “was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence…unacceptable level of brutality…conduct cannot be justified or cordoned on security or any other grounds…” The UNHRC report also deemed Israel’s military action as having “constituted grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.” The report also stated that there exists “clear evidence to support prosecutions of the following crimes within the terms of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: Willful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health.” The UNHRC arrived at a “firm conclusion” that a humanitarian crisis in Gaza existed at the time of the flotilla and therefore, "for this reason alone” Israel’s naval blockade was deemed “unlawful and cannot be sustained in law."

There are serious issues with the UNHRC’s findings concerning the events of 31 May 2010, including among others, its investigative methodology and its partisan language. However, the purpose of this article is not an examination of that specific report but rather an examination into the main actors and their actions – specifically the IHH – that lead to the international body to issue such a damaging account of the events surrounding the flotilla.

This article examines the IHH, its humanitarian structure, its links to terrorism (documented and alleged) and their involvement on the Mavi Marmara. As one journalist has noted, the IHH may represent a “new species of a non-governmental political actor” that, with its recent rise to the international political level, is “a regional tactical development on the order of the PLO’s pioneering and inventive use of terrorism.”[6] Slightly differing from that illustration, this article questions whether the IHH may be more comparable to a bipolar humanitarian organization. For the purpose of this article, bipolar humanitarianism can be understood as a form of humanitarianism containing two antithetical elements, which similar to any bipolar object contains positive and negative opposing poles or forces. By way of illustration, a bipolar humanitarian organization would contain one pole representing active humanitarian assistance for the betterment of society, while contemporaneously the same organization would contain an opposite and negatively charged pole constituting an organization’s involvement in nefarious activities, such as terrorism.

As the only ship to engage in violent behavior, it is necessary to inquire on a number of issues, most prominently the IHH activists – as well as other participants – including their stated purposes for partaking in the flotilla, which comprises recorded statements both in Istanbul prior to departure and on board the Mavi Marmara. Their physical action towards Israeli soldiers will also be analyzed, which includes beating, stabbing and abducting, as well as attempting to crash an Israeli helicopter above the vessel. Section one of this article begins with an overview of the IHH and its humanitarian structure and activities. Section two examines the documented and alleged links between the IHH and global terrorist networks. Section three provides an overview on the IHH’s special relationship with Hamas. Section four contains an analysis of the IHH and the Mavi Marmara. The final section of the article concludes with a brief analysis into the policy ambiguities of the IHH, which will also examine how and why this type of dubious humanitarian organization represents a clear threat to national security.

1. The IHH and Humanitarianism

It was amidst the fire of war that modern humanitarian institutions sprang – the Battle of Solferino in 1859 was the catalyst for the birth of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The idea was to offer care for the wounded in wartime. Since then, and through countless humanitarian organizations, humanitarianism has branched out beyond the zones of war. Today, humanitarianism in its most basic form is the doctrine that advocates for the well-being and improvement of social conditions for humans. Moreover, in theory, humanitarianism is politically impartial. Humanitarianism is practiced at every level – international, state, sub-state, and non-state (including the individual); from massive international organizational offices such as the United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs to state-level governmental programs such as the ‘United States Peace Corps’ to NGOs such as ‘Doctors Without Borders’ to individuals such as American Jody Williams. Proactive and on-the-ground charitable projects (as opposed to charity in the form of providing money) range from assisting in orphanages, training individuals in self-sustainable programs and teaching foreign languages to assisting in media-related projects, infrastructure construction programs, building good governance and providing medical care. Many of these programs are carried out in post-conflict societies where government is weak, poverty is strong, education is inadequate, child mortality rates are high, disease is widespread, basic goods and services are lacking and critical infrastructure is minimal at best. These programs are also carried out in, what have become known as, “failed states” – for example, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Iraq, and Somalia.[7] They are also practiced in emergency situations when, among others, natural disasters strike, such as the recent earthquake in Haiti or the 2004 Tsunami. The desire and methods to help states, communities and individuals are endless. The individual or the organization who undertakes a role to assist in any of these positively charged programs or tasks in order to advocate for both the well-being and an improvement of social conditions for humans earns the title of ‘humanitarian’.

The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH), or İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri İnsani Yardım Vakfi in Turkish, is a Turkish and Islamist non-governmental organization that was established nearly two decades ago in Istanbul.[8] It is an affiliate of the Union of Good (‘I’tilaf al-Khayr), a Saudi-based organization, which will be further discussed below in connection with Hamas. A Board of Trustees governs the IHH, including General President Bulent Yildirim, Deputy President Huseyin Oruc, Charter Member Mahmut Savas and 16 other members listed as Trustees.[9] There is also a Board of Inspectors (3 members). The IHH claims four points in their mission. Firstly, to provide for “all needy and wronged people” via “extending humanitarian aid” in order to “spread justice and good, and to fight evil…” Secondly, to combat for “anyone’s basic liberties and human rights” and to oppose any stratagems that causes people to become reliant on assistance (e.g. foreign aid). Thirdly, the IHH claims the desire to enforce the “protection of unchanging values atthe changing world”. Fourthly, the IHH aims to ensure the “perpetuation of good anytime and anywhere”.[10] The IHH website is offered in six languages and states that the organization operates in Turkey, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, the Balkans, Central and South America, Central and South Asia, and the Caucasus. All in all, the IHH reportedly conducts operations in over 120 countries, supported by an annual budget of approximately $100 million, “about $50 million in cash and $50 million of goods in kind.”[11]

Further, the organization states that they give priority to specific areas: first to conflict zones/war affected areas; second to sites of natural disasters; and third, to poor countries and regions.[12]. The IHH also states that they operate in areas of occupation; a reference to Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestinian Territories (chiefly, the Gaza Strip). The reason the IHH operates in the Gaza Strip, as opposed to the West Bank will be explained in the following section.

The IHH has strong humanitarian tendencies, as evidenced by their extensive list of global operations in which they directly participate and they are a legitimately registered NGO. The organization separates its activity into six categories: emergency aid, educational aid, volunteer activities, scholar meetings, cultural aid, and health aid. The IHH has participated in digging wells in Darfur, in distributing aid to 5,000 people following a flood in Albania, and in distributing nearly 35,000 Qurban shares (animal sacrificial slaughters during Eid ul-Adha) to over one and a quarter million people.[13]

The organization’s humanitarian campaigns currently number six: orphan, Rotamiz Filistin (translated as either route or intention to Palestine), Katarakt (Cataract), Water Well, Ramadan, and Qurban. As of 2009, the Orphan Campaign consists of sustained activity in over 20 countries and intervallic activity in over 60 countries; all in all, the IHH donated to over 15,000 orphans.[14] Orphans are supported via the Sponsor Family System. Though the IHH is an Islamist NGO, the organization assists non-Muslim children in the countries in which they operate. The IHH also has nearly 20 on-going humanitarian projects, ranging from offering scholarships to rebuilding dormitories to translation services (from Islamic sources) to assisting the deaf. Most of the IHH projects listed on their website are carried out in Muslim-majority countries and autonomous regions and territories (Afghanistan, Gaza, Iraq, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Aceh).[15]

Further, the IHH has received a number of awards for work in the field of humanitarianism, including, among others, the Parliamentary Award of Honor (2007), awarded by the Turkish government. Moreover, the IHH has strong international connections and memberships with established institutions, including The Union of NGOs of the Islamic World, the Humanitarian Forum, and the Turkey Voluntary Agencies Foundation (TGTV). The IHH also holds a consultative membership to the U.N. Economic and Social Council, which it received in 2004 through the NGO wing of the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The IHH’s most recent and very public campaign occurred during the Gaza Flotilla, also known as the Gaza Peace Flotilla or Freedom Flotilla. The flotilla was a consortium of ships carrying, among others, journalists, peace activists, intellectuals, humanitarians and humanitarian supplies that attempted to break through the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. The IHH was instrumental in the organization of the flotilla. Israeli commandos killed a number of IHH activists on board the Mavi Marmara ship following a naval raid on Monday, 31 May 2010. It was this flotilla and the subsequent raid that brought the IHH to international attention.

Irrefutably, the IHH does have humanitarian tendencies. The organization’s projects are legitimate and there is scant reason to believe that the organization exaggerates on the projects and campaigns listed on their website. The IHH is active in a multitude of countries and does, in fact, engage in humanitarian assistance for people in need.

However, the existence of humanitarian tendencies does not imply that the IHH is solely a humanitarian organization. The IHH, as evinced by their words and actions prior to, during and following the flotilla, do not lend the organization the sole title of ‘humanitarian’ but rather, illustrate a different type of threat to states: bipolar humanitarianism. As an illustration of the organization’s bipolar character, opposite to its positively charged activities, the IHH contains alleged links to global terror networks, documented links to Hamas, and a tendency towards violence, as its members prepared for violent activity prior to and during the flotilla campaign. This second pole of the humanitarian organization – one not found within the structures of bona fide humanitarian organizations – is what raises red flags, as connections to terrorism and/or terrorist organizations is a patent and prime concern for national security.

II. The IHH and Alleged Links to Global Terrorist Networks

From the outset, it is necessary to briefly explain to which definition of ‘terrorism’ this article adheres. For the purpose of this article, terrorism is the use or threat of use of organized violence against noncombatants, perpetrated in an attempt to reach policy objectives.

The IHH is alleged to contain formidable, radical Islamist tendencies with ties to a number of radical Islamist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, radical Islamist terrorist organizations such as Hamas, and reportedly including al-Qa’ida, although the latter is a claim that the United States, among others, has not been able to validate. Some US leaders are calling for an investigation into the IHH and its links to terrorism.[16] Further, as of July 2010, Germany banned the German-branch of the IHH for its financial support for terrorist organizations.[17] Specifically, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere stated, “Organizations that directly or indirectly align themselves from German soil against Israel's very right to existence have forfeited their rights to be active in Germany”.[18] It should be noted that the IHH released a statement on their website claiming to have no ties with the IHH-Germany. The released statement reported, “IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation was established in 1992 in Freiburg, Germany, by a group of volunteers and opinion leaders who delivered humanitarian aid to Bosnia during the war. After that date, all of our activities both in Turkey and in Germany were run under the name of that organization. After Turkey-based IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation’s establishment in 1995, the previous Germany-based IHH ceased its activities and was shut down in 1996.”[19] That is, there in fact were ties to the German-based IHH organization, though the IHH claims to have severed those ties well over a decade ago and a new organization in Germany, utilizing the same name, began operations.

It has also been stated that the IHH “reportedly popped up on the CIA's radar in 1996 for its radical Islamist leanings”, according to a former US counterterrorism analyst for the Office of Intelligence and Analysis in the US Treasury Department.[20] The CIA’s 1996 declassified report, "International Islamic NGOs and Links to Terrorism," stated that the IHH was associated with radical Islamist groups in Algeria and Iran and, further, that the IHH was one of fifteen NGOs financing and supporting terrorist interests in Bosnia.[21] Allegedly, the Sarajevo office director of the IHH had been linked to Iranian operatives. Some have, however, claimed that an IHH-terrorism link is “utterly scurrilous” while others, such as jihadists operating along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, confirm the IHH’s jihadi connections.[22]

The IHH has reportedly provided extensive logistical support to global jihadis since the 1990s. For example, in Chechnya and Bosnia the IHH supplied money and weapons to mujahideen. A 2010 article in the Serbian publication Banja Luka Glas Sprske asserts the IHH is continuing activity in Bosnia and that “funds collected in Bosnian mosques are transferred to Hamas”.[23] Further, the IHH was identified in several instances throughout the al-Qa’ida-orchestrated Millennium Bomb plot trial in the US. During the official legal proceedings, the former Head of the French judiciary’s counterterrorism unit and the recently EU-appointed head of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, testified that the IHH played important logistical roles in the facilitation of bogus passports and other counterfeited documents, the trafficking of weapons, recruitment of fighters, and the infiltration of mujahideen into various war zones.[24] He also stated that the IHH was “basically helping Al Qaeda when (Usama) bin Laden started to want to target U.S. soil”.[25] Importantly, Bruguiere affirmed:

“It's hard to prove, but all elements of the investigation showed that part of the NGO served to hide jihad-type activities…I'm convinced this was a clear strategy, known by IHH…it was clearly proven that some of the NGO's work was not charity, it was to provide a facade for moving funds, weapons and mujahedeen to and from Bosnia and Afghanistan”[26]

Bruguiere also noted that there were members of an international terrorist organization, Fateh Kamel, which worked at the IHH.[27] One IHH Board Member recently rebutted such claims: “We don't know Ahmed Ressam [dubbed the “Millennium Bomber”] or Fateh Kamel…we don't approve of the actions of any terrorist organization in the world.”[28] However, in a recent interview with the Associated Press, Bruguiere stated that Fateh Kamel “was too systematic and too widespread” for the IHH to be unaware of Fateh Kamel’s aims.[29] It should be noted that Bruguiere’s official statements were given years prior to the flotilla.

A 2010 ITIC report covers in depth the story of an IHH activist on board the Mavi Marmara, Erdinç Tekir, who was an active participant in the 1996 terrorist attack on the Russian ferry “Avrasya”, which has since become known as the “Black Sea Hostage Crisis.”[30] The story was first reported in the Turkish newspaper, Hürriyet. During an interview with the Islamic website, Dünya Bülteni, Tekir divulged his personal role in the attack, which was carried out for the purpose of releasing prisoners "to make the voice of Chechnya heard by the whole world for the Chechen-Abkhazian cause.”[31] Tekir was sentenced to nine years in prison for his role in the terrorist attack in the Black Sea. His subsequent involvement in the flotilla is one link in the Turkish IHH-terrorism chain.

The IHH was also mentioned during the trial of Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi, the founder of the American Muslim Council who pled guilty to indictments of financial and conspiracy charges in 2004. Brett Gentrup, Special Agent of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), testified about a number of cover organizations, societies and charities that were linked to terrorism, of which the IHH is mentioned in the section titled, “Support to al-Qaida”. Further, IHH documents that were seized from the offices of the Success Foundation(“an offshoot of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), a Saudi-based charity whose charities have been used to provide money for al-Qaeda and Hamas terrorist activities”) are entered in al-Amoudi’s trial as “exhibit 23”.[32]

In 2006, nearly four years prior to the Gaza Flotilla, the Danish Institute for Strategic Studies produced an investigative report on the mobilization of terrorists and financing for terrorism, which included the IHH and its links to global jihadist organizations. Evan Kohlman conducted the report titled “The Role of Islamic Charities in International Terrorist Recruitment and Financing”.[33] In one section, the report states:

“Turkish authorities began their own domestic criminal investigation of IHH as early as December 1997, when sources revealed that leaders of IHH were purchasing automatic weapons from other regional Islamic militant groups. IHH’s bureau in Istanbul was thoroughly searched, and its local officers were arrested. Security forces uncovered an array of disturbing items, including firearms, explosives, bomb-making instructions, and a ‘jihad flag.’ After analyzing seized IHH documents, Turkish authorities concluded that ‘detained members of IHH were going to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya’”.[34]

The report further shows that the humanitarian organization sent financial aid and weaponry to specific countries with the desire of gaining political support, and was in direct contact with al-Qa’ida members, including Abu el-Ma`ali, as well as Algerian terrorists operating in Europe and other radical Islamist organizations.[35] In a recent defense of his work, Kohlman wrote, “…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”.[36]

More recently, the Taifatul Mansura published a message regarding the IHH. The Taifatul Mansura is a group of Turkish jihadists active on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, fighting with Pakistani Taliban near Waziristan, which, according to Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, may be the latest nerve center of terrorism.[37] According to the Taifatul Mansura message, the IHH has advertized itself as an organization offering to provide financial support and provide recruits to mujahideen warzones in Afghanistan and Chechnya. The Turkish Jihadists went on to say that the IHH, in practice, misappropriated resources and served as agents to the Turkish National Intelligence Services (MIT).[38]

In September 2010, an Iranian media station publicized an interview with Yazdan Karimi, an Iranian researcher and expert on Palestinian affairs. Karimi claimed, following his visit to Turkey and his meetings with IHH members, that the IHH was “founded as a jihadist Islamic organization which sent fighters (mujahideen) to Bosnia to help the local Muslims fight the Serbs.”[39] Further, he stated that the IHH operates in a similar manner to “other ‘charitable societies’ of the same nature, such as those of Hamas and Hezbollah, to indoctrinate radical Islamic ideology.”[40]

These alleged links between the IHH and global terrorist networks is both extensive and is derived from government officials and academics years prior to the 2010 flotilla.

III. The IHH and Hamas

Prior to an explanation of the IHH-Hamas relationship, it is first important to briefly describe Hamas and to review its status as a terrorist organization.

In the same year that Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip, Hamas won the local Palestinian elections of December 2005, subsequently utilizing it as a platform to win the January 2006 elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council. The following year, Hamas perpetrated a violent seizure of the Gaza Strip in which hundreds of Palestinians were killed, a coup that included tactics such as lynching, executions, and defenestration.[41] On the one hand, Hamas’ 2006 electoral victory made them the legitimate leaders of the Palestinian People. This is a fact that countries seeking to avoid political relations with Hamas must face. On the other hand, Hamas is labeled a designated terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, Canada, and the European Union (on the EU’s terror group blacklist); Australia and the United Kingdom have designated Hamas’ militant wing as ‘terrorist’ – the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades – thus attempting to separate the brigades from the remainder of the organization, specifically its political and religious wings.[42] It must be noted that both the political and religious arms of Hamas have been linked to terrorist activity, whether financially, logistically, morally or operationally. For those countries choosing to sideline Hamas, the reason is as follows: as a designated terrorist organization, these countries reserve the right to not recognize Hamas as legitimate leaders and, therefore, can and have refused to negotiate with them. It is held that these countries do not view a round of free elections as equivalent to true democratic tendencies. Whether this is productive or counterproductive to the Israeli-Palestinian peace processes is debatable and is not the subject of this article.

Hamas, more than any other Palestinian militant organization, has utilized terrorism (specifically suicide bombings and indirect rocket fire) in an attempt to disrupt the Israeli economy and diminish the morale of the Israeli populace by striking at the soft underbelly of Israeli society: its noncombatants on buses and at cafes and nightclubs, or by indiscriminately firing rockets on various towns and villages. As was witnessed during the 2000-2005 Israeli-Palestinian armed rebellion – also known as the “al-Aqsa Intifada” or “Second Intifada” – Hamas’ goal was not to simply tear but rather to shred the social fabric of the Israeli population by the use of extreme violence in the hope that the Israeli government would capitulate to political demands. In other words, Hamas used extreme, indiscriminate violence in an attempt to bend or compel Israel to Hamas’ political will. According to a 2007 study, conducted by Benmelech and Berrebi, Hamas was responsible for nearly 40% of all suicide bombings carried out between 2000-2005.[43] According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), four years into the conflict, Hamas was responsible for “425 terrorist attacks of various kinds, in which 377 Israelis were murdered and 2,076 civilians and soldiers were wounded”.[44] If one is to judge Hamas on the tactics it utilizes, applied stratagems, sustained policy statements by Hamas leaders (in Arabic), and the charter on which the organization is based, then it can be logically assumed that Hamas is in fact a terrorist entity more than it is a political body or de facto government representing the Palestinian People.
The 2000-2005 Israeli-Palestinian violent conflict is a prime example of a period of time where Hamas perpetrated acts of terrorism, as well as other Palestinian organizations including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Members of the latter were recently shown in a photo-op with IHH members. Inline with the abovementioned definition of terrorism, the following statistics from the five-year armed rebellion can be understood as the following: out of a total of the 1,074 fatalities listed by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), there were a total of 821 victims of terrorism (76.44 percent of all attacks) and 225 victims of guerilla attacks (i.e. attacks against combatants - 20.95 percent of all attacks).[45] 28 fatalities (2.6 percent) on the MFA’s list do not meet the criteria for Palestinian terrorism. Ultimately, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations utilized terrorism more than three times (or 355 percent) as often as intended attacks on combatants. Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations are whom the IHH contains overt relations with.

Henri Barkey of the Carnegie Endowment recently noted that the IHH is an “Islamist organization, as it has been deeply involved with Hamas for some time”.[46] Apart from the IHH’s legitimate humanitarian programs – of which the list is extensive – as demonstrated below, the IHH has in fact been intimately and overtly involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in particular with its documented links to Hamas.[47]

The well-documented relationship with Hamas is a prime example of the IHH’s bipolar humanitarian characteristics. The IHH has and continues to fund a designated terrorist organization; funds which assist in fueling Hamas’ violent activities against Israelis and Palestinians, as well as foreigners inside Israel-proper. Among other projects, the IHH claims to have funded humanitarian projects in Gaza, totaling $25 million since 2005.[48] The IHH conducts much of its financial business with Hamas through an organization known as The Union of Good (‘I’tilaf al-Khayr). The Union of Good, banned by Israel in 2002, and designated by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2008 pursuant to Executive Order 13224, is a Saudi-based organization that “became the umbrella organization for Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islamic charity funds.”[49] The Union of Good contains more than 50 Islamic charities that funnel funds to, among others, Hamas. According to the Israeli Shin Bet (internal security), the Union of Good “is a well organized and coordinated global network with an eye to raise for and transfer terror funds to Islamic charity societies in the Territories.”[50] The history of relations between the Union of Good and Hamas dates to the First Intifada, which began in 1987. According to one Israeli report, the Union of Good “is the main financing body through which Hamas headquarters abroad finances local Hamas activities”. Sheikh Yussuf Mustafa Al-Qardawi heads the Union of Good, which contains and manages sub-committees that operate with a global reach. [51] The Union of Good is also affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, a massive Islamist organization that is highly operational in the West and an organization of which Hamas was originally an offshoot. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the Union of Good is a siphonage-type organization for Hamas funds, which allows Hamas to draw and distribute money through various charity-styled associations. According to Schanzer, the IHH is one of these charity-styled associations linked through the Union of Good and ultimately to Hamas.[52]

Hamas is an organization that relies on foreign donations and funding for much of its activity. The IHH continues to represent one of Hamas’ main fund-raisers and reportedly, the IHH carries out extensive operations in Gaza.[53] Further, according to an ITIC report, the IHH “transfers significant amounts of money to Hamas institutions in Judea and Samaria [West Bank], including the Islamic Charitable Society in Hebron and the Al-Tadhamun Charitable Society in Nablus (Hamas’ two central ‘charitable societies,’ both outlawed by Israel).”[54] Documents linking IHH funding to these charities were seized in 2002 during Operation Defensive Shield, the IDF military operation intended to quell the violent al-Aqsa intifada.[55]

Leaders of the IHH and Hamas have met regularly – a relationship that the IHH does not attempt to conceal.[56] US State Department Spokesman PJ Crowley confirms that the US has taken note, stating: "we know that IHH representatives have met with senior Hamas officials in Turkey, Syria, and Gaza over the past three years. That is obviously of great concern to us."[57] The NEFA Foundation has also recently released photos of IHH leaders at a “martyrdom celebration” of Said Seyam, the former “strongman of Hamas”.[58]

As mentioned above, the IHH’s connection to Hamas and the Union of Good has become the subject of intense international scrutiny. Israel banned the IHH in 2008 due to its connection with Hamas.[59]Germany has also recently banned the IHH for “providing $8.3 million to organizations that either belong to or support Hamas”.[60] Furthermore, Italian lawmakers are attempting to put the IHH on the EU’s list of terrorist organizations due to its ties to Hamas and the Union of Good.[61] 87 US senators have recently called for an investigation into the IHH due to the Union of Good’s status as a terrorist organization according to the US treasury, though some have stated that such an investigation, which would ultimately place the IHH as a designated terrorist organization, is “counterproductive to U.S. efforts to recognize and respond to terrorist threats” and could weaken diplomatic relations between Washington and Ankara.[62] Another analyst has stated that American “legislators are increasingly convinced, based on a growing body of evidence, that IHH could meet the Treasury's legal criteria for terrorist designation.”[63]

The reasons that the IHH operates mainly in the Gaza Strip, as opposed to its minimal activity in the West Bank, are a result of two factors. First, the IHH has particularly strong political connections with Hamas’ leadership in Gaza, where there are no stationed Israeli military forces. The absence of forces in the Gaza Strip makes it difficult for the Israelis to prevent IHH activity. Second, as the IHH is banned in Israel, any IHH activity is deemed illegal and Israeli security forces can and have prevented the IHH from establishing offices in areas under Israeli control, such as in the West Bank. Israeli forces have arrested and deported IHH activists, such as the IHH’s West Bank representative, Izzet Shahin.[64] According to one Israeli security source, Shahin “endangered the security of the area”.[65] According to the Shin Bet, Shahin was arrested on suspicion that he was engaged in operations in the West Bank for the IHH and, as part of his activity, Shahin “assisted other organisations in Judea and Samaria which were declared illegal.”[66] He was arrested on 27 April and taken into custody for questioning. He was deported shortly thereafter.

IV. The IHH and the Mavi Marmara – including statements from IHH leaders and activists in Istanbul and on the Mavi Marmara

“Shut up, go back to Auschwitz…We're helping Arabs go against the US, don't forget 9/11.”[67] 

IHH activists, as well as other participants on the Mavi Marmara ship – the only vessel to engage in violence with Israeli soldiers – have been directly linked to calls for premeditated violence and martyrdom that can be found in unequivocal statements in audio and video recordings. Yet, the activists on the ship were the end result of a yearlong plan that officially began in early 2009 in Istanbul. Their ultimate intention was a confrontation with the Israelis. Reaching Gaza was a secondary objective, as the Israelis offered the activists both land passage for the goods into Gaza and to port in Ashdod. Both were rejected and rejection was inevitably linked to some type of military action, as a naval blockade cannot be breached by anyone simply desiring to break it.

Detailing and analyzing the IHH and the events on the Mavi Marmara are crucial for understanding the UNHRC report on the findings of the flotilla. That report was alarmingly void of critical details concerning the ship’s members and their actions, which is precisely what led to the ensuing military action by the Israel Defense Forces.[68] The details of the activists on the Mavi Marmara are also crucial to understanding the difference between bipolar humanitarian organizations such as the IHH and bona fide humanitarian organizations.

During Operation Cast Lead in December-January 2008-09, the two-week operation of the IDF against Hamas in Gaza, the IDF imposed a maritime blockade of Gaza’s shores, chiefly due to attempts at weapons smuggling, mainly emanating from Iran. This naval blockade has remained in effect since the war.

Between 14-15 February 2009, two weeks after Turkey’s Prime Minister abruptly walked out of the World Economic Forum in Davos and a full 16 months prior to the flotilla, a conference was held in Istanbul, which saw the attendance of more than 200 Sunni clerics and religious scholars. They hailed from Algeria, Bahrain, Britain, Denmark, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, Sudan, and Yemen. Representatives of organizations that were present included the Muslim Brotherhood, Jamaat-i-Islami, the IHH, Hamas, and the Muslim Council of Britain.[69] According to Bill Law, the one Western journalist allowed to attend the conference, “speaker after speaker called for jihad against Israel in support of Hamas”.[70] During the conference, speakers promised Hamas financial aid, weapons and foreign fighters. Mohammad Nazzal, a Hamas official from Damascus who attended the event called for Arab governments to open borders and allow the flow of fighters into the Palestinian Territories. He further stated, “There will be no agreement with Israel... only weapons will bring respect”.[71] Following the conference, in private talks, Saudi cleric Mohsen al-Awajy, told journalist Bill Law, “Palestine is a legitimate theatre of operations for jihad (holy war)”.[72]

On Board

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) identified “about 50 passengers on the Mavi Marmara who could have terrorist connections with global jihad-affiliated groups”.[73] Five passengers were listed by name and description of their alleged terrorist links: U.S. resident Fatimah Mahmadi, who is a member of Viva Palestine; Ken O’Keefe, who is described in greater detail below; Turkish citizen Hassan Iynasi, who allegedly contributes monetarily to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad; Hussein Urosh, who is believed to be a part of a group that attempts to bring al-Qa’ida members to the Palestinian Territories; and Ahmad Umimon, a supposed member of Hamas.[74] Ken O’Keefe is a U.S. citizen and former U.S. marine that served in the First Gulf War in 1991. He holds varying extremist ideas, including that the attacks of 11 September 2001 were perpetrated by a collusion of the U.S. and the Israeli governments.[75] The reason for noting O’Keefe’s character in this article is to illustrate one example of an extremist, albeit non-IHH activist, on board the Mavi Marmara. The IDF claims that O’Keefe’s purpose for attempting to reach the Gaza Strip was “to set up and train a Hamas commando unit”, something that the former marine ardently repudiates.[76]

Videos of activists on board the Mavi Marmara are widely available on the Internet.[77] They include statements from IHH members calling for jihad, martyrdom and violence against Israeli soldiers prior to the IDF boarding the vessel. This includes the speech given by the head of the IHH, Bulent Yildirim, where he calls for activists to throw soldiers overboard.[78] Videos also contain pre-boarding and the actual boarding of the ship and the ensuing violence.[79] Both the IDF spokespersons office and the Israel Ministry for Foreign Affairs contain a chronological outline of events, including videos.[80] As most of the information can be found online, this section briefly summarizes events leading to the boarding of the vessel and the violence that transpired.

It should be noted that in separate interviews with two of the ship’s members, it was made clear that IHH operatives were preparing for belligerence and martyrdom prior to Israeli commandos boarding the vessels.[81] This included the use of steel clubs made from the ship’s railing as well as knives and firearms. Further, “seven of the nine Turks killed in the violent confrontation aboard the Mavi Marmara had previously declared their desire to become shaheeds (martyrs). Eight of them belonged to Islamist Turkish organizations and not one of them was a peace activist or human rights worker.”[82] Moreover, a senior IHH member and one of the organizers of the Gaza Flotilla, Hussein Urush, stated on Al-Jazeera that, "The passengers aboard the ship were all prepared for this outcome. They all wanted to become martyrs. They were prepared. Our goal was to reach Gaza or die without achieving that."[83] The violence began following the ship’s rejection of all Israeli proposals to unload the humanitarian supplies, which the Israelis would transfer to Gaza, post-inspection.

Prior to boarding the Mavi Marmara, the IDF made numerous attempts to contact the ships of the flotilla in order to request that they port in the Israeli southern coastal city of Ashdod.[84] According to the IDF Spokesperson’s office:

“The IDF relayed the message that the flotilla ships were in an area of a maritime closure, and offered the ships to transfer their cargo from the Ashdod Port to the Gaza Strip. The Sofia ship did not respond at all, while the other ships responded with refusal and/or profanity.”[85]

Following these failures the IDF attempted to board the ship.

“The IDF forces were divided and each group boarded a different ship. The soldiers arrived at the Mavi Marmara at 4:28 AM, but could not board the ship due to metal objects being thrown at them, and electric buzz saws used by the demonstrators to slice the ladders IDF soldiers needed to board the Marmara. After an unsuccessful attempt to board the ship by smaller boats, a helicopter arrived at 4:30 AM with 15 IDF soldiers. The first rope dropped by the helicopters was tied by the demonstrators to the deck of the ship in order to prevent the soldiers’ descent.[86]”

The second part of the operation occurred as soldiers descended the rope onto the Mavi Marmara. According to the post-operation report by the soldiers, those who belayed to the deck were shot at, beaten, stabbed and one soldier was shot in the abdomen by one of the participants on board.[87] Activists on the ship claim a different story.[88] Soldiers stated that the first use of live fire came from the vessel, not the naval commandos. It was at that point that the call to switch from paintball guns to live fire occurred. Another account comes from a recent book by one of the passengers on the Mavi Marmara, Şefik Dinç, who is also a Turkish journalist. Dinç wrote that Israeli soldiers only used live fire once attacks on other IDF soldiers had occurred.[89]

As can be seen on the videos, injured IDF soldiers were dragged to a lower section of the ship. A small boat arrived alongside the Mavi Marmara and violent action was taken against the soldiers, including the use of live fire. The navy responded with live fire. Onboard, a small arsenal of weapons was found, which included “many knives, slingshots, rocks, smoke bombs, metal rods, improvised sharp metal objects, sticks and clubs, 5KG hammers, firebombs and gas masks.”[90]

V. Analysis and Summary


Assuming that government officials’ statements regarding the IHH are true, this in itself does not imply that the IHH is a terrorist organization, as no official has ever claimed that the IHH has ever carried out an attack. At best, the organization would be guilty of morally supporting terrorist organizations; at worst, they are funding terrorism around the world. Both scenarios are inimical and both make the IHH a bipolar humanitarian organization and not the genuine humanitarian organization that they claim to be. Further, if the IHH is “supported by Ankara”, in essence this would further categorize the IHH as government-sponsored supporters of terrorism, a scenario that would further strain Ankara-Jerusalem relations.[91] It is known that the IHH received Ankara’s political and moral endorsement for the flotilla and the Turkish government sold the Mavi Marmara to the IHH for $800,000.[92] Further, Semih Idiz, a journalist for the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet stated, “While there may not be any evidence of a direct link here, there can be no mistake that the Erdogan government is morally and politically behind this group – the IHH…”[93] The Turkish journalist continues inquiring about the IHH and the Turkish government by stating, “this is not the first time that this group has put Turkey in a difficult diplomatic situation after being aided and abetted by the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP. It will be recalled that, a few months ago, the same group tried to force its way through the closed Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, only to end up clashing with Egyptian forces and straining ties between Ankara and Cairo.”[94]

What is a certainty is that the IHH morally, financially and overtly supports Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, whose activities have resulted in the deaths of Israelis, Palestinians and foreign tourists and workers in Israel, including American citizens. Furthermore, the events that ensued aboard the Mavi Marmara were a direct consequence of the demonstrated bipolar nature of the IHH and its subsequent motives, and not a reflection of misconduct on behalf of the Israeli military. Whether the Israelis were correct in their decision to utilize commandos rather than riot police is a tactical issue separate from this article.

IHH Policy and Humanitarian Crises

There are multiple problematic aspects in regards to both the IHH’s policy on humanitarian intervention and the nature of the situation in Gaza. Owing to the fact that there is a lack of an authoritative definition for what constitutes a ‘humanitarian crisis’, the question of what to call the situation in Gaza is largely up for debate and can become subject to political interest. While no one can deny the severity of the forced dependency of a people, it is arguable that the lack of starvation in Gaza makes it difficult to call the situation a humanitarian crisis[95]. Furthermore, Israel remains committed to allowing aid into Gaza through established conduits. According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

“Despite attacks by Hamas, Israel maintains an ongoing humanitarian corridor for the transfer of perishable and staple food items to Gaza. This conduit is used by internationally recognized organizations including the United Nations and the Red Cross. The Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration works together with international organizations to respond to the needs of the Palestinian population in Gaza[96].”

All in all, over a million tons of humanitarian supplies have been delivered into Gaza since Operation Cast Lead[97]. The confirmation of Israel’s cooperation with bona fide international humanitarian organizations further solidifies the dubiousness of the IHH’s intentions aboard the Mavi Marmara.

A further point regarding IHH policy ambiguities in regards to humanitarianism and prior to the flotilla is what was stated in Turkish and contemporaneously what was stated in English. In Turkish, IHH leader Yildirim’s remarks were quite distinct from those espoused to other humanitarian organizations participating in the flotilla. As has been astutely noted, Yildirim’s words sent two conflicting messages.[98] First, in Turkish Yildirim’s language was far more turgid and combative; he “presented the flotilla as an action taking place within the context of Islam’s fight on the ‘offensive’ waged against it by world powers and countries. Furthermore, he praised Hamas, set a clear political goal of isolating Israel, played down the humanitarian aspect, and used belligerent terminology.”[99] In grandiloquent language, Yildirim spoke of capturing Jerusalem, infidels, oppressors, worldwide slaughter of Muslims, and of a democratic Hamas under attack. In English, the leader of the IHH desisted from speaking in pugnacious language and from utilizing references to Islamist extremist ideology. Further, expounding to English-speaking participants, Yildirim underlined “the goal of sending ‘humanitarian aid’ to the Gaza Strip and the dire situation of its residents.”[100] The distinct choice of words utilized in different languages for varying audiences brings forward the question, what was the true intent of the IHH? Given the belligerent speeches made prior to the flotilla, the IHH’s close ties with Hamas, and the IHH’s actions on board the Mavi Marmara, it is a safe assumption that the flotilla was not a humanitarian venture. It was a self-serving political provocation undertaken by a bipolar humanitarian organization.


Another policy ambiguity of the IHH is related to the issue of occupation. The Turkish IHH, as well as the Turkish Premier, makes no mention of Turkey’s military occupation of northern Cyprus, a region occupied since 1974. The IHH claims to aid those in occupied zones yet Occupied Cyprus does not make the IHH’s list. This is an important point to note, as the IHH bases many of its claims against Israel on the basis of occupation and those in occupied zones are to be supported according to IHH stated policy. The invasion of Cyprus, as historian Brad Roth has written, led to a “partition of the country accompanied by measures now known as ‘ethnic cleansing’”.[101] Others have also written extensively on Turkish occupation resulting in clear acts of ethnic cleansing, destruction of religious property (i.e. churches turned into mosques), nearly 40% of the island occupied by a continued force of 40,000 soldiers, hundreds of thousands of refugees banned from returning to their property, over 1,500 missing persons, “a systematic policy of colonization” and other clear violations of the Geneva Conventions.[102] Ironically, a fact that goes alarmingly unnoticed by the mass media, one of the vessels that took part in the flotilla against occupation departed from Famagusta Port, which is under illegal occupation by the Turkish military.[103] More recently a recent vessel, filled with Jewish passengers against occupation, also left from the illegally occupied port.[104] Most of the other ships, also opposed to occupation, came together in occupied Cyprus waters before setting sail for the Gaza shore.

As shown above, the ambiguities of the IHH’s policies towards humanitarian crises and occupation demonstrate that its motives behind the Gaza campaign were the result of political and not solely humanitarian concerns.


Just as modern warfare is demonstrating that the lines between war and peace are becoming increasingly blurred, so too it seems are the lines between humanitarianism and terrorism, at least in some cases. This is the reality that many states will likely be challenged with in the future – a future where certain organizations will sail under the banner of humanitarianism, while navigating with nefarious intentions. The linkage between proactive, legitimate, on-the-ground humanitarian work, coupled with support for terrorist groups –financial, moral or otherwise – will represent a serious threat to states in the future. The IHH may provide a prime example, with one of the organization’s poles representing genuine on-the-ground humanitarian efforts (as opposed to solely monetary endorsements by fraudulent charities) and the second pole illustrating a number of either alleged or documented linkages to terrorist and radical Islamist organizations.
Currently, consequences stemming from organizations that pervert an alliance between humanitarianism and designated terrorist organizations are endangering security to states. In fact, so much so that for some, the humanitarianism-terrorism blur is already becoming a matter of national security.These bipolar humanitarian groups may endanger bona fide humanitarian organizations that contain no links to terrorist groups. As these types of groups proliferate and their agendas become more threatening, states will naturally lean towards a general suspicion of motives behind humanitarian organizations in general. It is organizations such as the IHH that pose a grave danger for the future of humanitarianism. The world community must be circumspect about such organizations and their motives before states are condemned for defensive military action. Ultimately, the only thing that the UNHRC achieved in its report was to send a very dangerous message to states: no matter who claims ‘humanitarianism’, national security comes in second place.

*A.E. Stahl is a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT, Herzlyia), the Publisher of Infinity Journal, and a doctoral candidate in War Studies at King’s College London.

*Sheena Reiss is currently a research assistant at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT, Herzlyia).


[1] “Report of the international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance.” Resolution No. A/HRC/15/21. United Nations Human Rights Council. Advanced Unedited Version. 22 September 2010.

[2] “UN body backs anti-Israel flotilla report.” YNET (From the AFP). 29 September 2010.,7340,L-3962034,00.html

[3] Hirsch, Afua. “Gaza flotilla attack: calls for international criminal court to step in.” Guardian. 8 October 2010.

[4] Benhorin, Yitzhak. “Israel to cooperate with UN probe into flotilla raid.” YNET News. 2 August 2010.,7340,L-3928991,00.html

[5] All quotes in this brief paragraph, except for Benhorin’s report, were found in “Section V. Conclusions”, Pp. 64-5, points 261-265 of the UNHRC’s “Report of the international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance.” Resolution No. A/HRC/15/21. United Nations Human Rights Council. Advanced Unedited Version. 22 September 2010.

[6] Berlinksi, Claire. “A Visit Inside Turkey's Islamist IHH.” The Weekly Standard. 21 June 2010.

[7] “The Failed State Index 2009”, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2009,

[8] For the purpose of this article, “Islamist” refers to individuals or organizations that regard Islam as their political ideology.

[9] “About Us – Trustees”, İHH İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri İnsani Yardım Vakfı,

[10] “Our Mission”, İHH İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri İnsani Yardım Vakfı,

[11] Champion, Marc. “Aid Group, Israel Primed for Clash, Flotilla Review Shows.” The Wall Street Journal. 7 July 2010.

[12] Found in “Orphan 2008-2009 Annual Report – Our Work Principles”, İHH İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri İnsani Yardım Vakfı,

[13] “IHH completes Qurban campaign”, İHH İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri İnsani Yardım Vakfı, 2009,

[14] See report above entitled, “Orphan 2008-2009 Annual Report”

[15] “Our Projects”, İHH İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri İnsani Yardım Vakfı,

[16] “Schumer asks for full investigation of links between Turkish-based organization behind flotilla and al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups; in letter to Sec. Clinton asks State Dept. to investigate”, Senator Charles E. Schumer, United States Senator for New York, 6 June 2010,

[17] Weinthal, Benjamin (and Associated Press and JPOS). “Germany bans IHH for Hamas links.” Jerusalem Post. 12 July 2010.

[18] “Germany bans group accused of financing Hamas.” Deutsche Welle. 12 July 2010.,,5787109,00.html

[19] “We have no links with the IHH in Germany.” İHH İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri İnsani Yardım Vakfı. 2010.

[20] Schnazer, Jonathan, “The Terror Finance Flotilla”, Weekly Standard, 31 May 2010,

[21] Found in Weiss, Michael, “The dark truth about those Gaza-bound Turkish Flotilla ‘humanitarians.’”

[22] “Daily Press Briefing - Transcript”, United States Department of State, 2 June 2010,; Greta Berlin recently stated that claims regarding the IHH and radical Islamist groups were “utterly scurrilous”. See “Profile: Free Gaza Movement”, BBC, 1 June 2010,; For the Taifatul Mansura published message, see “Taifatul Foreign Fighter Contingent Issues Message on IHH”, Flashpoint Partners, 6 June 2010,

[23] Found in “Conspicuous among the passengers and organizations aboard the Mavi Marmara were Turkish and Arab Islamic extremists led by IHH. They were joined by extremist European left activists and volunteers who answered the call to help the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and were not partners in IHH's violent plans.” The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. 5 October 2010.; also found in “Iranian Expert: IHH is a Jihadist Organization.” Found in Middle East Affairs Information Center. Appendix IV. 23 September 2010.

[24] This information is derived in the main from the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which possesses copies of the Millennium Bomb Plot legal testimonies. The former Head of the French judiciary’s counterterrorism unit’s testimony can be found on page 11. The information can be found in “Past Involvement of IHH in Supporting the Global Jihad and Radical Islam-Additional Information”, Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 3 June 2010. The transcripts may also be viewed at ‘United States District Court, Western District of Washington. United States of America Vs. Ahmed Ressam, AKA, Benny Norris”, Also found in Christie-Miller, Alexander and Hider, James, “Turkish charity that sent aid convoy to Gaza ‘has links to terrorism’”, London Times, 3 June 2010, and De Montesquiou, Alfred, “AP Interview: Turkish aid group had terror ties”, Associated Press, 2 June 2010,

[25] “Turkish Charity Behind Gaza Flotilla Had 'Ties to Terrorism and Jihad'”, Fox News (from the AP in Paris), 2 June 2010,

[26] See De Montesquiou, Alfred, “AP Interview: Turkish aid group had terror ties.”

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid

[29] Ibid

[30] “Erdinç Tekir, IHH operative wounded aboard the Mavi Marmara, participated in the 1996 terrorist attack on the Russian ferry Avrasya to bargain for the release Chechens from Russian prisons. Information indicates a past connection between IHH, and global jihad and Islamist terrorist networks, including Chechen Islamist separatists.” Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. 26 August 2010.

[31] Ibid. ITIC Report 26 August 2010

[32] See court transcript “United States of America vs. Abdurahman Muhammad Alamoudi”, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, Appeal from Case No. 03-1009M, Section V Support to Al Qaida, number 41, page 16,; for a detailed description on terrorism financing including the Success Foundation and the IIRO, see “Testimony of Steve Emerson Before House Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations "PATRIOT Act Oversight: Investigating Patterns of Terrorist Fundraising, The Investigative Project (found in US Air Force’s Air University) 12 February 2002,

[33] Kohlman, Evan F., “The Role of Islamic Charities in International Terrorist Recruitment and Financing”, DIIS Working Paper no 2006/7, Danish Institute for Strategic Studies, 2006.

[34] Ibid, Page 10-11.

[35] Ibid, Page 11

[36] Kohlman, Evan, “Shooting the Messenger: A Look at the Facts on the Turkish Aid Group IHH”, Counterterrorism Blog,

[37] Rashid, Ahmed, “North Waziristan: Terrorism’s New Hub?”, The Washington Post, 5 May 2010,

[38] See “Taifatul Foreign Fighter Contingent Issues Message on IHH”

[39] “Iranian Expert: IHH is a Jihadist Organization.” Found in Middle East Affairs Information Center. 23 September 2010.

[40] Ibid.

[41] “Hamas takes control of Gaza”, USA Today, 15 June 2007, and “Palestinian gunmen target Haniyeh’s home in Gaza”, Haaretz, 10 June 2007,

[42] For those countries that have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization see following. “Foreign Terrorist Organizations: Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism.” U.S. Department of State.; “U.S. Welcomes European Union Designation of Hamas as Terrorists: Calls decision important in halting terrorist financing.” September 6, 2003.; “Currently listed entities.” Public Safety Canada. 2008.;

[43] Benmelech, Efraim and Berrebi, Claude, “Human Capital and the Productivity of Suicide Bombings”, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 21, No. 3, 2007, page 227

[44] “Hamas Terror Attacks”, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 22 March 2004,

[45] Note: The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has comprised a list of all fatalities of Palestinian political violence during the conflict, entitled “In Memory of the Victims of Palestinian Violence and Terrorism in Israel”. The MFA’s list is a chronologically detailed record, including names and victim biographies, dates, places, and times of attacks, and when possible, the exact Palestinian militant organization responsible for the fatalities. However, despite its degree of precision when describing each fatality, there are a number of serious issues with this governmental record, which calls for rectification. The title of the report, the description of attacks, and the categorization of fatalities are faulty; the lack of crucial terms, such as “guerilla” and “noncombatant”, are nonexistent and not all of the listed victims were killed in Israel or the DT and not all are known, with absolute certainty, to have been killed by Palestinian militants. See, “In Memory of the Victims of Palestinian Violence and Terrorism.” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2008.

[46] “Gaza flotilla: the Free Gaza Movement and the IHH”, The Telegraph, 31 May 2010,

[47] See “Turkish Charity Behind Gaza Flotilla Had 'Ties to Terrorism and Jihad'”, Fox News (from the AP in Paris), 2 June 2010,; Karmon, Ely, “From friend to (almost certainly) foe”, Jerusalem Post (posted on International Institute for Counterterrorism), 1 June 2010,; Krieger, Hilary Leila, “US concerned over IHH-Hamas ties”, Jerusalem Post, 3 June 2010,; “Israel envoy in Geneva: Gaza flotilla activists linked to terror groups”, Haaretz, 1 June 2010,; IHH, which plays a central role in organizing the flotilla to the Gaza Strip, is a Turkish humanitarian relief fund with a radical Islamic anti-Western orientation. Besides its legitimate philanthropic activities, it supports radical Islamic networks, including Hamas, and at least in the past, even global jihad elements”, Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 26 May 2010;

[48] The breakdown of the near-$25 million dollars, according to the IHH website is as follows: Emergency Relief: $12,549,600, Social Aid: $6,044,740, Cultural Aid: $226,761, Educational Aid: $3,373,789, Medical Aid: $2,577,820, TOTAL: $24,772,710. See “What Has IHH Been Doing For Gaza”, İHH İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri İnsani Yardım Vakfı,

[49] “The Union of Good – Analysis and Mapping of Terror Funds Network.” Israel Security Agency.

[50] Ibid.

[51] “Leading Hamas members arrested in Jerusalem”, Israel Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2 July 2007,

[52] Found in Weiss, Michael, “The dark truth about those Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla ‘humanitarians.’"

[53] “IHH, which plays a central role in organizing the flotilla to the Gaza Strip, is a Turkish humanitarian relief fund with a radical Islamic anti-Western orientation. Besides its legitimate philanthropic activities, it supports radical Islamic networks, including Hamas, and at least in the past, even global jihad elements.” Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. 26 May 2010.

[54] Ibid

[55] Ibid. For photos of seized documents, see ITIC report above.

[56] For photos and videos of the head of the IHH and Hamas leaders meeting four months prior to the flotilla, see “Gazze'de Göz Yaşartan Büyük Buluşma (Video-Foto)”. 7 January 2010. Found in 26 May ITIC report -

[57] Krieger, Hilary Leila, “US concerned over IHH-Hamas ties”, Jerusalem Post, 3 June 2010,

[58] “Images of IHH Representatives Celebrating ‘Martyrdom’ of Sr. Hamas Leader.” NEFA Foundation. 7 June 2010.

[59] “Gaza ‘Peace Activists’: A closer look at Israel’s accusations”, Yassin Musharbash, 9 June 2010.,1518,699509,00.html

[60] Barrow, Tzippe. “Germany Bans Pro-Hamas Aid Organization”. CBN News. 15 July 2010.

[61] “Italian Lawmakers: Put IHH on EU terrorist list”, Benjamin Weinthal, 28 July 2010,

[62] “The IHH Riddle.” Center for American Progress. 26 July 2010.

[63] Schanzer, Jonathan. “Will the Turkish Flotilla Group Be Named as Terrorists? Foreign Policy Magazine. 19 August 2010.

[64] Harel, Amos. “Israel detains Turkey national over illegal Gaza aid work.” Haaretz. 10 May 2010.

[65] Lappin, Yaakov. “IDF arrests Turkish man for ‘endangering W. Bank security.’” Jerusalem Post. 11 May 2010.

[66] “Turkish charity worker arrested in West Bank.” BBC. 11 May 2010.

[67] This is one of the responses, from the Mavi Marmara, to Israeli requests to port in Ashdod. “IDF forces met with pre-planned violence when attempting to board flotilla.” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 31 May 2010 (updated 21 June 2010).

[68] “Report of the international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance.” United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). A/HRC/15/21. Advanced Unedited Version. 22 September 2010.

[69] Doward, Jamie. “British Muslim leader urged to quit over Gaza.” The Guardian. 8 March 2009.; the full list of all The 90 signatories’ names and countries listed on the Istanbul Declaration can be found in, Fighel, Jonathan. “The Jihad ‘Istanbul declaration’ and the Gaza Flotilla”. International Institute for Counter-Terrorism. 26 June 2010.

[70] Law, Bill. “Clerics urge new jihad over Gaza”. BBC. 17 February 2009.

[71] Ibid.

[72] Ibid.

[73] Katz, Yaakov, “IDF: Global jihad links on flotilla”, Jerusalem Post, 1 June 2010,

[74] “Specific Flotilla Passangers Linked to Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Other Terror Organizations, 6 June 2010”, Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Office – IDF Blog, 6 June 2010, and Pfeffer, Anshel. “IDF: Five Gaza flotilla activists linked to Hamas, Al-Qaida.” Haaretz. 6 June 2010.

[75] For O’Keefe’s views on 9/11 and other incidents, see video titled, “9/11 was an Israeli Zionist False Flag Attack.” YouTube.

[76] Sheizaf, Noam. “Rough Passage”. Haaretz. 24 September 2010.

[77] Interviews with the Captain of the vessel and other officers on board can be viewed on the Middle East Affairs Information Center, a Netherlands-based NGO. For videos, see “Video Recordings of Statements from Mavi Marmara Crew Members.”

[78] “VIDEO / IHH leader tells Gaza flotilla activists to 'throw IDF soldiers into the sea'” Haaretz. 18 June 2010. and Sherwood, Harriet. “Flotilla raid: Turkish jihadis bent on violence attacked troops, Israel claims.” Guardian. 2 June 2010.

[79] “Mavi Marmara Passengers Attack IDF Before Soldiers Board Ship.” YouTube.; Close-Up Footage of Mavi Marmara Passengers Attacking IDF Soldiers.” YouTube.

[80] “Videos Timeline of Flotilla Incident as Presented by Eiland Team of Experts (English Version), 13 July 2010.” Israel Defense Forces.

[81] “Video Recordings of Statements from Mavi Marmara Crew Members about Preparations Made by IHH Operatives for the Violent Confrontation with IDF Soldiers”, Intelligence and Terrorism and Information Center 9 June 2010,; for report, videos and photos, see “Behind the Headlines: Seizure of the Gaza Flotilla”, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 31 May 2010,

[82] “Turkish Journalist: Mavi Marmara Crisis Was a Calculated Gamble.” 15 September 2010.

[83] To access the al-Jazeera video clip, see “Statements of Flotilla Activists about Their Readiness to Die as Shaheeds (Martyrs for the Sake of Allah) (Video File No. 1)”, Intelligence and Terrorism Center, 14 June 2010,

[84] “Israeli Navy Addresses a Ship in the Flotilla and Offers it to Dock in the Ashdod Port.” YouTube.

[85] Ibid.

[86] Ibid.

[87] Op. Cit. “IDF forces met with pre-planned violence when attempting to board flotilla.”

[88] Booth, Robert. “Gaza flotilla activists were shot in head at close range.” The Guardian. 4 June 2010.

[89] Information on the book by Şefik Dinç found in “Turkish Journalist: Mavi Marmara Crisis Was a Calculated Gamble.” 15 September 2010.

[90] Op. Cit. “IDF forces met with pre-planned violence when attempting to board flotilla.”

[91] Sherwood, Harriet. “Gaza aid flotilla to set sail for confrontation with Israel.” Guardian. 25 May 2010.

[92] Schleifer, Yigal. “Turkey-Israel crisis: Why the formerly obscure IHH is playing a key role.” The Christian Science Monitor. 4 June 2010.

[93] Idiz, Semih. “Much to ponder for Turkey and Israel once the dust settles.” Hurriyet .7 June 2010.

[94] Ibid.

[95] Izenberg, Dan. “Analysis: Is there a humanitarian crisis in Gaza?” 22 March 2010.

[96] “Israel’s Humanitarian Aid Efforts.” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

[97] Ibid.

[98] “In a speech given by IHH leader Bulent Yildirim two months prior to the Marmara flotilla, he presented a radical Islamic ideology with anti-Western and anti-Israeli motifs. He said that the aim of the flotilla was to isolate Israel by ‘breaking the siege’ and stressed his determination to reach Gaza.” Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. 5 September 2010.

[99] Ibid.

[100] Ibid.

[101] Roth, Brad R. Government Illegitimacy in International Law. In Chapter 5, section B4. P. 193. (Oxford University Press: 2000)

[102] Information derived from the following sources: Mallinson, William. Cyprus: A Modern History. Part III, 12. (Palgrave Macmillan, New York: 2005); Kaufmann, Chaim D. “When All Else Fails: Ethnic Population Transfers and Partitions in the Twentieth Century.” International Security. Vol. 23, No. 2, Autumn 1998, Pp. 120-156; Pipes, Daniel, “PIPES: Turkey in Cyprus vs. Israel in Gaza
Ankara's recent condemnation of Jerusalem is hypocritical.” The Washington Times. 19 July 2010.; “Turkey's Invasion of Greek Cyprus.” Global Security. Found in section titled “Military.”

[103] Psyllides, George. “Flotilla Ready to Set Sail.” Cyprus Mail. 30 May 2010.

[104] Medzini, Ronen. “Foreign Ministry: Jewish activists won't be allowed into Gaza.” YNET. 27 September 2010.,7340,L-3961007,00.html