New York, NY, June 8, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on the U.S. Department of State to designate two of the principal organizers and funders of the "Free Gaza" flotilla as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Long before Insani Yardim Vakfi (Humanitarian Relief Fund, or IHH in Turkish) and The Union of Good (UG) raised their profiles as the main supporters of the Gaza-bound flotilla, both organizations had emerged as significant players in fundraising for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
"After their pre-planned and violent assault against Israeli soldiers on the high seas, the flotilla organizers can no longer hide behind the notion that their only objective is to provide humanitarian services," said Robert G. Sugarman, ADL National Chair.
"Actions speak louder than words, and the violence aboard the Mavi Marmara should be read as a warning that IHH and UG have a more sinister agenda," added Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "A closer look at the record of some of these groups shows a history of fundraising and providing other material support to Hamas and other Islamic terrorist groups."
In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the League identified IHH and UG as having "well-documented ties to Hamas" and a long record of activities in raising funds and expressing support for the terrorist goals of Hamas and other groups:
- Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), an Istanbul-based Islamic charity, has emerged as a significant player in the Hamas global fundraising machine, maintaining direct contacts with senior Hamas officials. IHH organized several conferences in Turkey to demonstrate its support for Hamas, and senior Hamas officials have openly participated in these conferences. At the conferences, the heads of IHH have expressed their support for Hamas, including its armed warfare against civilians. IHH has sent activists to open branches in the West Bank and Gaza, and at least one activist has transferred thousands of dollars to Hamas-run charities.
- The Union of Good: According to the U.S. Treasury Department, UG – an umbrella organization that represents over 50 Islamic fundraising groups – facilitates the transfer of tens of millions of dollars a year to Hamas-managed associations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including funds to compensate Hamas terrorists by providing payments to the families of suicide bombers. Created by the leadership of Hamas, UG acts as a broker for Hamas by facilitating financial transfers between a web of charitable organizations.
"In light of the extensive connections and significant fundraising activities made by these groups to Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, we would urge the State Department make these two organizations subject to the same restrictions as Hamas," the League wrote to Secretary Clinton.
The League also has written to Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury, urging his department to add IHH to its lists of terror-sponsoring organizations – which triggers restrictions on business and banking transactions with U.S. persons. In November 2008, UG was added to Treasury's "Designated Charities and Potential Fundraising Front Organizations for FTOs" list and the Office of Foreign Assets Control list of "Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons."
Among other measures, the State Department's terrorist organization designation makes it a crime to provide material support to terrorist organizations and freezes the financial accounts of terrorist organizations in U.S. financial institutions.