The main organizer and funder of the Gaza Flotilla, the Turkish NGO Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), is portraying itself as a “Humanitarian Relief Foundation”, but it is better known in Bosnia for its connections to terrorism.
Several documents confirm the nexus between the Turkish IHH and foreign Muslim fighters in Bosnia during the war.
A Bosnian State Security Service (SDB) Report on “Citizens, Organizations and Institutions from Afro-Asian Countries who Reside and Operate” in Sarajevo, dated November 19, 1995, provided specific details on the NGO’s activities and the involvement of its managers in the Mujahideen Brigade.
At the time, the IHH Sarajevo office director was Hakan Celik. The report stated that he arrived in Sarajevo in July 1994, from Zenica, which served as headquarter of the Mujahideen Brigade.
The report provided the details of another IHH official, Hakan Bogoclu, deputy director of the IHH Sarajevo office. It stated that “he was a member of the 7th Muslim Brigade from September 1st, 1992 until July 1st, 1994.”
Another IHH official, Osman Atalay, was enrolled in the Mujahideen Brigade. According to the report Atalay was “a Turkish citizen, born on August 28, 1963 in Istanbul, temporarily residing in Street Isa Bega Isakovica 8”, who “came to Sarajevo on January 14, 1995 from Zenica where he was a member of the army from September 1st, 1992 until July 1st, 1994.”
Interestingly, the same Osman Atalay took part in the Gaza Flotilla for the IHH (as first reported by Bosnian journalist Esad Hecimovic for Intelwire.com). In interviews to various Turkish media following the Israeli interception of the flotilla boats on May 31st, he was quoted saying that “Everybody on the ship was 100 percent [humanitarian] activists, even the crew”!
Osman Atalay, who is now a board member of the IHH, attended the opening ceremony of an “Istanbul Center for Culture and Education” in Sarajevo, a month before the flotilla incident, along with Emine Erdogan, the wife of Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan.
At the time of the Bosnian war, the IHH came under scrutiny of NATO forces. In a report on Islamic NGOs in Bosnia dated May 8, 1996, the NATO Allied Counterintelligence Unit stated: “Terrorist groups are now using NGOs for support and operational planning.” The report listed several suspected charities, including the IHH.
The involvement of IHH employees in the Muslim units combating along the Bosnian army is also reflected in official military records. For example, in a certificate dated October 23, 1995, Nezim Halilovic Muderis, Commander of the 4th Muslim Liberation Unit, confirms that IHH member Engin Huseyin is a member of the unit since July 20, 1995.
In 1996, a CIA report on Islamic charities in the Balkans stated that the IHH had connections with “Iran and extremist Algerian groups” and that “the Sarajevo office director of the IHH was linked to Iranian operatives”.
The IHH later appeared in several counter-terrorism investigations for providing shelter, forged documents, arms, and money to terrorists traveling to combat-zones in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, or Iraq.
The IHH Bosnian connection was further uncovered during the French investigation on the “Roubaix Gang” (Bosnian and Canadian networks leading to the Millennium terrorist plot against the LA airport in 1999). On October 16, 2000, the final prosecution statement noted that “during searches at the IHH headquarters in Istanbul, arms, explosives, and training manuals were discovered” and that “arrested member of the IHH have been fighting in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya”.
According to the investigation, the IHH had directly conspired to “recruit veteran soldiers in anticipation of the coming holy war [jihad]. In particular, some men were sent into war zones in Muslim countries in order to acquire combat experience.”
The French prosecutor also reported that “An examination of the IHH’s phone records in Istanbul showed …two phone calls to the communications center in Zenica of Abu El Maali”, Emir of the Mujahideen battalion in Bosnia.
In the following judgment of the Paris Tribunal, on Avril 6, 2001 (Public Prosecutor v. Khabou, Bendaoui and others), the court stressed that the IHH “was known for its support to Islamist extremists in Turkey, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Chechnya, and was a contact point for the trafficking of forged IDs”.
On April 2nd, 2001, French antiterrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguière, who had investigated the “Roubaix Gang” case, testified during the trial of Millennium plotter Ahmed Ressam, that the “IHH has played an important role” in this operation. He added that “the IHH is a humanitarian organization, but it was kind of a type of cover-up to thwart the Moujadin”.
More recently, during the trial of Abdulrahlman Muhammad Alamoudi, founder of the American Muslim Council and Secretary of the Success Foundation, it was revealed that the IHH had received funds from the Success Foundation, successor in interest of the North American branch of the International Islamic Relief Organization – IIRO, which was known to provide support to foreign Mujahideen fighters in Bosnia and had funded terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.
Details of these financials transactions were provided by the U.S. government in a Supplemental Declaration in Support of Detention on October 22, 2003 signed by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent. Until January 2001, the IHH had received at least 200,000 $ from the IIRO and Success Foundation for purported humanitarian aid.
Alamoudi, was sentenced to 23 years in jail in October 2004 for illegal financial transactions and participation to an assassination plot against Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.