Senator Charles Schumer
Senator Charles SchumerIsrael news photo: courtesy of Sen. Charles Schumer

New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer has added his voice to growing cries for an investigation of terrorist links with IHH, the Turkish-based organization that sponsored last week’s flotilla that included Turkish terror activists.

The United Nations immediately condemned Israel for the violence on the Mavi Mamara flotilla ship last week, but no mention was made of links between terrorist groups and IHH.

Nine Turks aboard the Mavi Mamara ship were killed after they brutally assaulted Israeli Navy commandos who boarded the vessel without standard counterterrorist weapons and after the flotilla refused to answer calls to change course from Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Senator Schumer asked U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to “immediately conduct an investigation to determine if the IHH is currently – or has in the past – provided financial, logistical or material support to any terrorist organizations listed on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.”

Former Deputy National Security Adviser Elliot Abrams wrote on the Weekly Standard website that the Israelis “understand that no one is going to investigate Turkey and its role, nor investigate the pro-terror groups on board those ships — not if the United States fails to insist on it.”  

Interviewed on CNN, Abrams maintained, “Israel interfered, thank God…with a group of armed Turks who came prepared for a fight with iron bars, night vision devices, ceramic vests, despite what, frankly, are the lies that the Turkish foreign minister” stated the same day on CNN.

B'nai Brith Canada Executive Vice President Frank Dimant said, "We have contacted both Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper and the Leader of the Opposition to call on them to act against IHH without delay. IHH…has a long history of involvement with and links to Islamist terrorist organizations which clearly justify its inclusion of the list of designated terrorist entities. Designating the IHH as a terrorist entity would clearly fit with the Harper administration's public safety platform.”

The IHH openly sympathizes with Hamas, which is designated by the United States as an outlawed terrorist group. U.S. State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told reporters last week that the IHH is not on the list of terrorist groups but added, “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.”

He also referred to IHH’s “clear, long-standing ties to terrorism and jihad” and said the Obama administration is "concerned” about IHH ties with terrorist groups.

A Washington Post editorial on Saturday also questioned the activities of the IHH. “The relationship between Mr. [Tayip Recep] Erdogan's government and the IHH ought to be one focus of any international investigation into the incident,” the newspaper stated. “The foundation is a member of the ’Union of Good,’ a coalition that was formed to provide material support to Hamas.”

New York Post columnist Ralph Peters, Zvi Mazel, Israel's former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), and the European Jewish Congress also have demanded a probe of IHH. The EJC also called for putting it on the EU terrorist group list, calling on Spanish Foreign Minister Angel Miguel Moratinos - whose country currently chairs the European Union - and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton to “immediately proscribe the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, otherwise known as the IHH and other similar terrorist front organizations.

“According to a report issued in 2006 by the Danish Institute for International Studies, during the 1990s the IHH maintained links with al-Qaeda and a number of ‘global jihad networks.”  After an investigation on reports that the IHH bought weapons, the Turkish government raided IHH offices in Istanbul and found weapons, explosives, and instructions for bomb-making.

The EJC cited a French intelligence report that "in the mid-1990s IHH leader B’ulent Yildirim recruited soldiers for jihad activities in a number of Muslim countries and that the IHH transferred money, firearms, and explosives to jihadists in said countries.”

Newsweek magazine reported that officials in the Obama administration question whether the IHH is a terrorist group. “IHH is sympathetic to Hamas,” one of the officials told Newsweek. “[But] that by itself does not make them terrorists.” Two other counterterrorism officials admitted there is evidence of previous contacts between IHH and radical Muslim groups.