Turkish “Union of Good” is Up to No Good

Totally Provocative Attempt to Storm Israel’s Gaza Blockade Creates International Incident

One of the Free Gaza Movement Ships

The Terror Finance Flotilla

The convoy of ships allegedly trying to bring aid to the Gaza Strip was organized by a group belonging to an officially designated terrorist organization.

By Jonathan Schanzer
May 31, 2010

The Turkish organizers of the Gaza Strip-bound flotilla that was boarded this morning by Israeli commandos knew well in advance that their vessels would never reach Israeli waters. That’s because the organizers belong to a nonprofit that was banned by the Israeli government in July 2008 for its ties to terrorism finance.

The Turkish IHH (Islan Haklary Ve Hurriyetleri Vakfi in Turkish) was founded in 1992, and reportedly popped up on the CIA’s radar in 1996 for its radical Islamist leanings. Like many other Islamist charities, the IHH has a record of providing relief to areas where disaster has struck in the Muslim world.

However, the organization is not a force for good. The Turkish nonprofit belongs to a Saudi-based umbrella organization known to finance terrorism called the Union of Good (Ittilaf al-Kheir in Arabic). Notably, the Union is chaired by Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, who is known best for his religious ruling that encourages suicide attacks against Israeli civilians. According to one report, Qardawi personally transferred millions of dollars to the Union in an effort to provide financial support to Hamas.

In 2008, the Israelis banned IHH, along with 35 other Islamist charities worldwide, for its ties to the Union of Good. This was a follow-on designation; Israelis first blocked the Union of Good from operating in the West Bank and Gaza in 2002.

Interestingly, the Union of Good may not only be tied to Hamas. Included in the Israeli list of 36 designees was the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO). In 2006, both the U.S. government and the United Nations designated the IIRO branch offices in Indonesia and the Philippines for financing al Qaeda. French magistrate Jean-Louis Brougiere also testified that IHH had an “important role” in Ahmed Ressam’s failed “millennium plot” to bomb the Los Angeles airport in late 1999.

The U.S. government, it should be noted, also views the Union of Good as a terrorist organization. On November 12, 2008, a press release from the U.S. Treasury announced the umbrella group’s leaders as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT), stating that the group was “created by Hamas leadership to transfer funds to the terrorist organization.”

“Terrorist groups such as Hamas continue to exploit charities to radicalize vulnerable communities and cultivate support for their violent activities,” said Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey.

According to Treasury, Hamas’s leadership actually created the Union of Good in 2000—just after the launch of the armed campaign against Israel—as a means to transfer funds to Hamas. At the time of designation in 2008, the Treasury believed that the Union of Good was transferring “tens of millions of dollars a year” to Hamas-controlled entities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

As the Treasury release explained, “The Union of Good acts as a broker for Hamas by facilitating financial transfers between a web of charitable organizations—including several organizations previously designated… for providing support to Hamas—and Hamas-controlled organizations in the West Bank and Gaza. The primary purpose of this activity is to strengthen Hamas’ political and military position in the West Bank and Gaza.”

It gets worse. The Treasury, drawing from declassified documents, stated unequivocally that the Union of Good “compensated Hamas terrorists by providing payments to the families of suicide bombers. One of [the charities], the Al-Salah Society, previously identified as a key support node for Hamas, was designated in August 2007… The Society employed a number of members of the Hamas military wing and supported Hamas-affiliated combatants during the first Intifada.”

Then there’s the leadership. Apart from the aforementioned Qardawi, Union of Good’s top officials include Hamas members, as well as Yemeni national Abd al-Majid al-Zindani, who was designated by the U.S. Treasury as a terrorist in 2004 for providing support to al Qaeda.

Thus, the convoy of ships allegedly trying to bring aid to the Gaza Strip could never be characterized as a “peace flotilla.”   With ties to Hamas and other dangerous groups, the IHH can only be described as a dangerous organization. Its members only underscored this fact when they attacked Israeli naval personnel with iron bars and knives, ultimately leading to the regrettable deaths this morning on the Mediterranean Sea.

Jonathan Schanzer is a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Photo: AFP

68 responses to “Turkish “Union of Good” is Up to No Good

  1. I believe their plan will fail. If they think Israel will not protect themselves from radical “women”; they will be sadly mistaken, IMO !

    Females — New Secret Weapon

    TENSIONS over a new wave of boats preparing to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza are escalating.

    Organisers of one boat in Lebanon have described Israel as “a thieving enemy” and Israel has vowed to use “all necessary means” to prevent the boats reaching Gaza.

    Amid reports 12 US and one Israeli warship had crossed the Suez Canal with Egyptian approval towards the Red Sea, organisers of the all-female boat being prepared in Lebanon said women were “the new secret weapon”.

    “We are women in order not to give the thieving enemy an excuse to use arms against the ship,” an organiser told Israeli radio.

    The comments came as al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper reported the arrival in the Suez of the US ships. Although the US made no comment, speculation rose that any such ships would be Gaza-related as Iran has vowed to send ships to Gaza any day and their most likely route would be through the Suez.


    Gob Bless the USA and Israel and all our brave troops around the world !

    P.S. If I were president, I would bring them all home…..I believe we’re gonna need everyone of them !!!! Radical thought, huh? Sorry to go on that little tangent; just sick of our soldiers being the world police, draining their lives, our resources and getting NO RESPECT from those we help !!!

  2. Iranian Gaza aid ship won’t sail due to ‘Israeli threats’

    Iran flotilla organizers note Israel sees vessels from Iran, Lebanon as ‘sign of war’. Iranian MP: Different boat to sail next week

    6.24.10, Israel News

    An Iranian organization announced Thursday evening that the vessel carrying aid to the Gaza Strip, which was to have started its journey on Sunday from Iran, will not set sail. An Iranian member of parliament said a different boat, carrying four Iranian lawmakers and many other Iranians would set off from Turkey instead.

    The secretary general of an Iranian organization supporting Palestinians, Hussein Sheikh el-Islam, said during a press conference that the main reason for the cancellation was “the violent and inhuman attitude of the Zionist regime to humanitarian aid.” The vessel’s intended voyage was originally announced by the Iranian Red Crescent.

    Full Story

    “The vessel was supposed to leave for Gaza on Thursday, but because of hurdles put up by the Zionist regime regarding the impossibility of getting some of the goods (into the Strip), it was decided to postpone the departure to Sunday, but now this too will not happen,” Sheikh el-Islam was quoted by the Iranian news agency IRNA.

    “Israel sent a letter to the UN announcing that the arrival of vessels from Lebanon and Iran to the Gaza area would be a sign of war and it would act against them,” he added.

    Sheikh el-Islam, former Iranian ambassador to Syria and currently secretary-general of the international committee for the support of the Palestinian intifada in Iran, said the aid would be sent in other ways, apparently overland or by air.

    “The Zionist regime has turned assistance to people under siege in Gaza into a political issue, and we do not want to turn such humanitarian acts into political acts because the most important thing is breaking the Gaza blockade,” he said.

    “The aid collected by the Red Crescent was to have included food products, medicines and construction materials, among other things,” he continued. “The fact that the Zionist regime is in crisis and each day retreats from its stated positions shows that it is nearing the end of its life and the opposition in Palestine will be victorious.”

    However, other Iranian figures are not ready to give up. Iranian Member of Parliament Mahmoud Ahmadi clarified that another Iranian vessel is due to leave next Tuesday or Wednesday to show solidarity with the people of the Gaza Strip. The ship will carry some 50-60 Iranians, food products and medicines. It will sail from the Caspian Sea to Turkey and from there to Gaza.


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