German Court Upholds Ban On German IHHBy
Israeli media is reporting that a German court has upheld the ban on the German International Humanitarian Relief Organization (IHH) for financing Hamas. According to a Jerusalem Post report:
4/22/20 Leipzig’s Federal Administrative Court finds that Frankfurt-based Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief donated money to terror group. Photo: Stringer Turkey / Reuters BERLIN – A federal court in Germany upheld the Interior Ministry’s ban on the Frankfurt-based Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) because the Turkish NGO contributed funds to Hamas. Hamas is recognized by the European Union, Israel and the United States as a ‘terrorist organization’ and Leipzig’s Federal Administrative Court found that the IHH donated money to the group. The NGO challenged the decision of Germany’s former interior minister Thomas de Maizieres, who outlawed the IHH in July 2010. He said at the time that the IHH ‘fights against Israel’s right to exist.’ Maizieres added that ‘organizations that operate from German soil, directly or indirectly, with the aim of fighting Israel’s right to exist, have forfeited their right to freedom of association.’ The IHH helped sponsor the 2010 flotilla, a convey that sought to break Israel’s naval blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara was intercepted by Israeli naval commandos, which resulted in the deaths of eight Turkish and one Turkish-American activists, and injuries to Israeli sailors.According to the Federal Administrative Court ruling, ‘the IHH sent a significant amount of collected money over a long period of time to the Islamic Society and the Salam Society for Relief & Development. These social organizations, which are active in the Gaza Strip, are, according to the Federal Interior Ministry, part of the overall structure of Hamas.’ The court concluded that Hamas engages in ‘terroristic actions and violence’ against both Israelis and Palestinians. Reinhard Marx, the attorney representing IHH, told the daily Tagesspiegel on Thursday that the ‘decision sends a catastrophic decision signal to the Muslim community’ because it denounces charity as support for terrorism. Marx, a Frankfurt- based attorney who specializes in international law affecting foreigners, claimed that the IHH has provided support for 3,200 Palestinian orphans in 2009 since Israel’s Cast Lead offensive in Gaza sought to stop Hamas rocket attacks. The German court viewed IHH’s ‘social engagement’ as a way to enable Hamas to recruit activists, who would function as terrorists, and strengthen its organizational and political legitimacy in Gaza. The court justified its IHH ban as based in precedent, referencing a 2004 Leipzig court decision that upheld the prohibition on the NGO Al-Aksa. ‘Although the top members of the IHH were aware of the court’s decision, the now-banned organization took over its activity and sought to conceal its activity. The IHH made clear that it identified with the Hamas and its acts of violence,’ the court wrote. A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy told The Jerusalem Post when the 2010 Interior Ministry ban was issued that ‘with great satisfaction we have noted the German government’s decision to outlaw IHH, the terror organization that was behind the Gaza flotilla.’
A post from July 2010 first reported on the German ban and noted, contrary to the above reporting that although the German IHH and the Turkish IHH share the same name, the two groups split in 1997. According to an AP report at the time, the German IHH as very closely tied to the Turkish Islamist group known as Milli Gorus:
(AP) — BERLIN – Germany has banned an organization it accuses of financing the Islamic militant group Hamas, the interior ministry said Monday. The Frankfurt-based International Humanitarian Relief Organization (IHH) is believed to have collected money in mosques and to have sent about ?6.6 million ($8.3 million) to relief organizations belonging to or supporting Hamas, which Germany considers a terrorist organization, the ministry said. “Under the cover of humanitarian aid, the IHH has been supporting for a long time and with considerable financial resources so-called social groups which have to be seen as connected to Hamas,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. “It exploits trusting donors’ willingness to help by using money that was given for a good purpose for supporting what is, in the final analysis, a terrorist organization,” de Maiziere said. Hamas, which runs Gaza, doesn’t recognize Israel. Organizations that work directly or indirectly against Israel’s right to exist lose the right to be active in Germany, de Maiziere said. The International Humanitarian Relief Organization could not be reached for comment, and its web pages were shut down in the course of the day. The organization was founded in 1992 in Freiburg, Germany, the ministry said. In 1997 the group split in two, IHH Germany and IHH Turkey, which are now two separate entities, it said. IHH Turkey was recently involved in organizing a pro-Palestinian flotilla meant to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The flotilla was stopped by Israeli military May 31. Eight Turks and one Turkish American were killed in the raid. German authorities have been investigating the International Humanitarian Relief Organization in Frankfurt for a year, the ministry said. On Monday, authorities raided 29 places throughout the country and confiscated files, data, and real estate belonging to the organization. The main figures in IHH Germany are also active in the Islamic group Milli Gorus, which has been under observation by German authorities, the ministry said. The money the International Humanitarian Relief Organization sent to six groups connected to Hamas was collected in Milli Gorus mosques with donors not necessarily knowing where their contributions went, it said. According to a 2004 German high court decision it is irrelevant whether the money was used for charity or otherwise because Hamas works as an entity and giving money to any branch will bolster the group’s terrorist activities, the ministry said. While IHH has been active in Germany for a long time, authorities started investigating it only after being tipped off by a bank that it suspected money laundering. Though the organization is now illegal in Germany, its staff face no immediate criminal charges unless they continue the group’s activities or regroup, the ministry said.
In Germany, the Milli Gorus organization is closely linked to the German Muslim Brotherhood, headed by the former leader of the of the Islamische Gemeinschaft Deutschland (IGD) which is generally considered to be the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany. Mr. El-Zayat is also a leader in many European Muslim Brotherhood organizations and is married to the sister of Mehmet Sabri Erbakan who is in turn the nephew of Necmettin Erbakan, the leader of Turkish Milli Görüs. Mr. El-Zayat is highly active in managing Milli Gorus properties in Germany and in Holland where a mosque project he was involved with has become embroiled in controversy. He was also formerly the Western European head of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a Saudi youth organization that U.S. government agencies and officials have has helped spread Islamic extremism around the world as well as sponsoring terrorism in places such as Bosnia, Israel, and India. A German newspaper has reported on the real-estate business of Ibrahim El-Zayat, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany. The report discusses Zayat’s role as the signatory authority for an entity called European Mosque Construction and Support. In this capacity, he advises more than 600 mosques in Europe, providing project development, insurance, and other services. The report states that he is currently involved with over 50 new and renovated mosque projects. Zayat also provides investment services for wealth Arab investors in the MIddle East who wish to invest “Islamically” in Europe. Previous posts have discussed a German law enforcement investigation, in which El-Zayat was one of a group of individuals tied to the IGD suspected of forming a criminal association and intending to commit a crime by obtaining funds for its “politico-religious and ultimately Islamist goals. One of the other defendants in the case was Oguz ÜCÜNCÜ, the General-Secretary of Milli Gorus in Germany and a business partner of Mr. El-Zayat. The German government dropped the investigation in September 2010.
In May 2011, a post reported the details of a proposed settlement in the IHH case. The status of the settlement is not known.