Prominent among the coalition organizations participating in the aid
flotilla scheduled to arrive in the Gaza Strip is the Turkish IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi, IHH, “humanitarian
relief fund”). It is a radical Islamic organization, established in
1992 by a member of the Turkish Refah Party and formally registered in
Istanbul in 1995.
2. As far back as
1996, it was identified by the CIA as a radical Islamic humanitarian
organization named International Humanitaire Hilfsorganization (IHH)
a.k.a International Humanitarian Relief Organization, with its main
offices in Zagreb and Sarajevo and headquarters in Germany. The CIA
report noted that the organization had connections with extremist
groups in Iran and Algeria.
January 1996 CIA report entitled International Islamic NGOs and Links
to Terrorism was declassified by the American administration after the
September 2001 attacks for use in the government trials of captured Al
Qaeda members. The report mentions a large number of Islamic
organizations affiliated with radical Islamic groups.
The report deals with the charities and their involvement in terrorism
during the conflict in Bosnia, where aiding Muslims in distress was an
Islamic religious duty. Islamic activists dominate the leadership of
the largest charities, and prominent members of some smaller
organizations have been identified as extremists. The main objectives
of the organizations include proselytizing, helping the needy and
defending Muslim communities. Where Muslims are engaged in armed
conflict, some Islamic organizations provide military aid as part of a
5. All the
major and most of the minor Islamic charities were significant players
in the former Yugoslavia, particularly in aiding Bosnian Muslims. Their
contributions represented a significant proportion of the humanitarian
aid received. According to the US embassy in Riyadh, Saudi nationals
alone gave $150 million through Islamic NGOs in 1994. Most of the
offices of NGOs active in Bosnia are located in Zagreb, Sarajevo,
Zenica, and Tuzla. Their field of operations appears to be confined to
the Muslim areas in the northeastern and central parts of the country.
The CIA report identified International Humanitaire Hilfsorganization
(IHH) as part of 15 organizations employing members or otherwise
facilitating the activities of terrorist groups operating in Bosnia.
Some Islamic NGOs not included in the list have terrorist connections
outside of the Balkans.
7. Some the
charities mentioned in the report were designated by the United States
as terrorist organizations after the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa,
while the majority were designated only after 9/11.
IHH is not designated by the USA and was designated by Israel only in
2008 because of its connections with Hamas and its fronts within the
Union of Good umbrella organization, which, along with its 36
affiliated associations, was outlawed by Israel.
The IHH as appears in the 1996 CIA report
1 Follow-up to the May 26, 2010 bulletin “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”
2 Col.(Ret.) Jonathan Fighel is a Senior Researcher in the International Institute for Counter Terrorism (ICT), IDC