Democrat Senator Schumer demands investigation of organizers of Gaza Flotilla

politics | Jun 06, 2010 | By Martin Barillas

On June 6, Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), in a personal letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, called for the State Department to immediately conduct an investigation to determine if the Turkish based non-governmental organization (NGO), Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), otherwise known as the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, has provided financial, logistical or material support to any terrorist organizations listed on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).

According to a 2006 report, the group served as a front for funding terrorist organizations and sending rebels to fight in places such as Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. Recently, France's former top anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere stated that IHH was connected to the "millennium plot" to bomb the Los Angeles airport in late 1999. And it has been stated in recent media reports that major international Islamic charities such as IHH, while providing genuine humanitarian relief, are "charitable front groups that provide support to Al-Qaida.”

“The United States must do everything in its power to combat support for terrorist organizations here and across the world,” Senator Schumer said. “We must target, investigate, and, if need be, punish those who offer logistical, financial and political support for terrorist groups. That is why today I am urging Secretary Clinton to take the necessary steps to immediately conduct an investigation to determine if IHH has ties to terror groups. If it is determined that this organization is providing support to terrorist organizations, then appropriate measures should be taken and that organization should be held accountable for its actions.”

According to sources, evidence pointing to links between IHH and terrorist organizations has begun to pile up. Based on statements from U.S. State Department officials, IHH representatives have met with senior Hamas officials in Turkey, Syria, and Gaza over the past three years. International media reports have also referenced IHH’s “clear, long-standing ties to terrorism and Jihad". Additionally, according to reports, Turkish security authorities began investigating IHH in December 1997, after having received intelligence that senior IHH figures had purchased automatic weapons from radical Islamic organizations. As a result, IHH facilities were raided and organization members were arrested.

During the security raid the Turkish security forces found weapons, explosives, instructions for making IEDs and a flag with a jihad message. IHH, has also been recognized as a member of the "Union of Good” a Saudi-based umbrella organization known to finance global terrorism. On November 12, 2008, the U.S. government announced the umbrella group's leaders as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Schumer says that it is especially disturbing that an organization such as IHH, whose connections to terrorism lie under a cloud of uncertainty, has been afforded Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

Senator Schumer says it is crucial that government officials use every resource available to determine which organizations are dedicated to providing humanitarian aid and which groups are providing support to terrorist organizations. The distinction should be clear and unambiguous and if there is any reason to believe that an NGO is providing support to terrorist organizations, then appropriate measures should be taken and that organization should be held accountable for its actions.

The Israeli military has released a list of persons arrested on May 31 by Israeli naval forces that interdicted the six-vessel flotilla attempting to breach the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israeli says that they are tied to various leftist and terrorist organizations. Arrested on the Turkish vessel, Mavi Marmara, were:

Fatimah Mahmadi (born 1979), is a United States resident of Iranian origin, and an active member of the organization “Viva Palestine”, she attempted to smuggle forbidden electronic components into the Gaza Strip.

Ken O’Keefe (Born 1969), an American and British citizen, is a radical anti-Israel activist and operative of the Hamas Terror organization. He attempted to enter the Gaza Strip in order to form and train a commando unit for the Palestinian terror organization.

Hassan Iynasi (born 1982), a Turkish citizen and activist in a Turkish charity organization, is known of providing financial support to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Terror organization.

Hussein Urosh, a Turkish citizen and activist in the IHH organization, was on his way to the Gaza Strip in order to assist in smuggling Al-Qaeda operatives via Turkey into the Strip.

Ahmad Umimon (born 1959), is a French citizen of Moroccan origin, and an operative of the Hamas terrorist organization.

Another US citizen, who was not named by Israelis, was Furkan Dogan – one of those killed in the raid on the Mavi Marmara. Video tape shot by the organizers of the flotilla showed men on the Mavi Marmara arming themselves with clubs and other improvised weapons in anticipation of the fatal Israeli raid. The UN, and several national governments, has called for an independent investigation. Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu has refused.

A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter can be found below.


# # #

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United States Department of State
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton:

I write to ask that the State Department investigate whether the Turkish-based non-governmental organization (NGO) Insani Yardim Vakfi (I.H.H), otherwise known as the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, is providing financial, logistical or material support to any terrorist organizations listed on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).

There is reason for concern that this so-called charitable organization may have links to terror groups. A 2006 report by the Danish Institute for International Studies described the group as a front for funding terrorist organizations and sending Mujahidin to fight in places such as Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. Recently, France's former top anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, stated that IHH was connected to the "millennium plot" to bomb the Los Angeles airport in late 1999. And it has been stated in recent media reports, that major international Islamic charities such as IHH, while providing genuine humanitarian relief, are "charitable front groups that provide support to Al-Qaida”.

Based on statements from U.S. State Department officials, we know that IHH representatives have met with senior Hamas officials in Turkey, Syria, and Gaza over the past three years and international media reports have also referenced IHH’s “clear, long-standing ties to terrorism and Jihad". It is especially disturbing that an organization such as IHH, with possible connections to terrorism, has been afforded Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

I believe it is crucial that the State Department attempt to determine which organizations are dedicated to providing humanitarian aid and which groups are providing support to terrorist organizations. The distinction should be clear and unambiguous and if there is any reason to believe that an NGO is providing support to terrorist organizations, then appropriate measures should be taken.

The U.S. government must do everything in its power to combat support for terrorist organizations. I urge you to take the necessary steps todetermine if the IHH currently - or in the past - provided financial, logistical or material support to any terrorist organization listed on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).

Thank you for your consideration of this important request. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance.


Sincerely,

Senator Charles E. Schumer

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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