Skip to main content

Police raid Islamic charity in Turkey

By Ivan Watson and Gul Tuysuz, CNN
updated 6:30 PM EST, Tue January 14, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Turkish police target IHH offices as part of an operation against al Qaeda
  • Leaders of the charity suggest the investigation is the work of "Israeli infiltration"
  • In 2010, the IHH led ships that sought to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza
  • More recently, the Turkish charity has provided aid across its border to war-ravaged Syria

(CNN) -- Turkish police on Tuesday raided the offices of a Turkish Islamic charity on the border with Syria as part of an operation against the al Qaeda terror organization.

Leaders of the charity, known by the acronym IHH, denounced the police investigation, suggesting it was caused by "Israeli infiltration."

The police operation was "against aid organizations helping Syria, to try to stop aid, and against the IHH, because it is the largest charity organization in Turkey," Yasar Kutluay, the IHH's secretary general, said at a news conference Tuesday.

Kutluay went on to call the raid an "ugly operation" by groups that had been "infiltrated by Israel."

Turkey purges police force

The IHH gained international notoriety in 2010, when it led a convoy of ships that sought to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Israeli commandos launched a botched raid of the IHH-owned passenger ship Mavi Marmara that resulted in the deaths of eight Turks and an American citizen of Turkish descent.

The Mavi Marmara raid ruptured relations between Turkey and Israel, two close allies of the U.S. that had previously enjoyed military, economic and intelligence-sharing ties.

More recently, the IHH had taken the lead in providing humanitarian assistance across the border to war-ravaged Syria.

The organization, which says it does charity work in more than 100 countries, operated soup kitchens and distributed food in camps for displaced people in northern Syria. Its leaders also helped broker the release of Turkish journalists who had been held captive by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Over the last year, several al Qaeda-linked militias have taken root in opposition-controlled northern Syria.

The IHH announced on its official Twitter account that at least one of its employees had been arrested in Tuesday morning's police raid.

Is instability the 'new normal' for Turkey?

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:13 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
updated 4:58 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
updated 9:02 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
updated 11:33 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
updated 1:48 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
updated 5:59 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
updated 6:33 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
updated 5:15 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT