The Turkish-based organization IHH, which was behind last year's deadly flotilla confrontation in the Mediterranean Sea and has ties to Hamas, denounced the American killing of Osama bin Laden, according to a report released Wednesday by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
Earlier this month, IHH, along with other Turkish Islamist organizations, held a press conference in Istanbul and issued a joint statement denouncing the "American terrorist attack" on bin Laden. At the conference, IHH representative Osama Atalay gave a speech attacking the United States for killing thousands of Iraqi and Pakistani civilians. "American terrorism" had to be condemned, he said, and the killing of bin Laden was illegal.
Atalay is an IHH trustee and board member. He was a passenger on the Mavi Marmara ship that tried to break through the Israeli naval blockade on the Hamas government in Gaza. Of the six ships in the flotilla, the Mavi Marmara was the only one to ignore Israeli navy warnings that they would be stopped if they did not turn away. Israeli commandos were attacked with clubs, knives, axes and other weapons when they tried to board the ship. A group of approximately 40 IHH activists were prepared in advance by IHH head Bulent Yildirim to carry out a violent confrontation with Israel. Nine passengers were killed in the ensuing violence.
IHH had ties to al-Qaida, according to U.S. court documents. French intelligence expert Jean Louis-Bruguiere stated during the April 2001trial of "millennium bomber" Ahmed Ressam that IHH played an "important role" in the al-Qaida planned Millennium bomb plot. Bruguiere also said in an interview with the Associated Press last June, "They [IHH] were basically helping al-Qaida when (Osama) bin Laden started to want to target U.S. soil."
A week ago, Yildirim gave a telephone interview with Turkey's Channel 5 TV about the preparations. He said "we are not afraid" and "even if we sacrifice shaheeds [martyrs] for this cause, we will have justice on our side."