Turkish media has reported on a visit by Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood leader Rachid Ghannouchi to the headquarters of the Turkish charity known as IHH where he told journalists that Turkey is an “example for budding Tunisian democrats” and lavishly praised Necmettin Erbakan, the recently deceased Turkish the recently deceased Turkish Islamist leader. According to a report in the newspaper Hurriyet:
Turkish political experience ‘inspires the Arab world,’ the leader of Tunisia’s newly legalized Islamist movement ‘Ennahda’ (Awakening) said Wednesday during a meeting with journalists in Istanbul. Rached Ghannouchi, who was in exile during the era of ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, came to Turkey to attend the funeral Tuesday of the country’s first Islamist prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan. He told the mostly Turkish and Arab journalists at the meeting that Turkey serves as an example for budding Tunisian democrats. ‘We are learning from the experience of Turkey, especially the peace that has been reached in the country between Islam and modernity; it is a true example [to the Arab world],’ Ghannouchi said. His press conference took place at the Istanbul headquarters of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or ?HH, a Turkish Islamic charity that led the Gaza-bound aid flotilla raided by Israeli commandos in May, an operation that resulted in the deaths of nine activists. Asked whether he and his party were receiving any support from Turkey and the Turkish government, Ghannouchi said only that Turkey’s example is in itself a form of support. ‘The Turkish experience, the success of Turkey inspires the Arab world. Human rights, democratic freedoms and economic progress in Turkey – these are the biggest supports that Turkey gives to the Arab world,’ he said. Describing Erbakan as ‘not only a friend, but a big brother,’ Ghannouchi said he heard of the Turkish politician’s death while he was in Tunis. ‘This was a very tragic event,’ he said. ‘The elaborate funeral that Erbakan received, those who attended and those who watched extended between 1.5 million and 2 million… the feelings evoked from the Turkish people showed how much respect and love they have for this leader’ Ghannouchi compared Erbakan to the intellectual forefathers and founders of the Muslim Brotherhood. ‘In the Arab world in my generation, when [people]talked about the Islamic movement, they talked about Erbakan. When they talked about Erbakan, it is comparable to the way they talked about [Brotherhood founders] Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb,’ he said.
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Bulent Yildirim, the leader of IHH, recently stated “”Our Problem Is Zionism – Which, Like a Virus, Has Infected All Humanity.”
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) has recently published a report titled “Turkey, the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and the Gaza Flotilla” which profiles the IHH. The JCPA report conclusions state:
Although IHH declared that the flotilla was humanitarian in nature, the history of IHH suggests that it is not only a humanitarian organization. Some of the IHH’s key founders fought in the 1990s in the Mujahidin Brigade of the Bosnian Army along with many veterans of the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. In addition, there have been multiple reports of terrorist/jihadist activity by IHH, including allegations that IHH was in possession of weapons and explosives, was recruiting soldiers for jihad and sending them into war zones such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya, and that calls had been made from IHH headquarters to an al-Qaeda guest house. The reports also say that during the 2003 Iraq war, IHH sent donations and aid to areas under insurgent control in Iraq, including to Fallujah in mid-2004, before US and British forces defeated a coalition there made up of al-QaedaIraq and former Baathists at the end of the year. Finally a French magistrate testified in a US court that IHH played an important role in the 2000 al-Qaeda Millennium bomb plot targeting Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). In addition to these reported terrorist ties, this report demonstrates that IHH and the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood network had numerous contacts with Hamas and the Hamas government in Gaza including joint press conferences, delegations to Gaza, and telephone calls with Hamas leaders, including Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. IHH and its leaders met with senior Hamas activists including Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal in Damascus, held joint press conferences with Hamas spokesmen, and attended a Hamas rally in Gaza. The Turkish/MB network also had a relationship with the Union of Good, a coalition of charities headed by Youssef Qaradawi raising money for Hamas and reported by the Israeli government to include IHH as a member organization. This relationship included hosting a congress of the Union in Istanbul that included the IHH chairman as well as the reported transfer by IHH of tens of thousands of dollars to two Hamas charities associated with the Union. Both Israel and the US have designated the Union of Good as a terrorist organization.Aside from these terrorist connections, this report demonstrates that IHH and the rest of the Turkish/MB network are in fact Islamist, politicized organizations.