Turkish charity that sent aid flotilla to Gaza may have terror links

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London, June 3 (ANI): The Turkish charity whose fleet of Gaza-bound aid ships was controversially raided by Israel that saw the death of nine of its crew-members, is now under the scanner over alleged terrorist links and providing a facade for raising funds for terrorist organisations.

Despite their repeated denial of such accusations and assertions of their being a "peaceful" organization, the charity named The Foundation for Human Rights, Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) has dubious antecedents and has previously been found to be embroiled in Islamic fundamentalism and an attempted bombing of a US airport.

According to The Times, the IHH, which Israel says has links with the Palestinian group Hamas, first gained attention in the 1990s.

Jean-Louis Bruguihre, a French investigating magistrate and an authority on counter-terrorism, has said that in the mid-1990s the group's leader, Bulent Yildirim, made efforts to "recruit veteran soldiers in anticipation of the coming holy war.

In particular, some men were sent into war zones in Muslim countries in order to acquire combat experience", the paper reports.

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth said that some security officials believed there was a link between the ship, which was purchased for the trip by the IHH, and Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK).

The IHH had been unable to charter a ship for the risky voyage, and had resorted to buying the Mavi Marmara for 900,000 euros 750,000 pounds; money it said it had raised from its members in Turkey. It also bought the 10,000 tonnes of aid intended for Gaza, including electric wheelchairs and pre-fabricated houses.

In its defense, the IHH said that anyone attempting to help the unfortunate Gaza dwellers is hastily labeled a "terrorist".

"We don't have anything against Israel. Our only aim was to carry aid to the people of Gaza. But for Israel, regardless of your religion or your nationality, if you help the people of Gaza you will be declared a terrorist," said an IHH statement.

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