Skip to main content

Police raid Islamic charity in Turkey

By Ivan Watson and Gul Tuysuz, CNN
January 14, 2014 -- Updated 2330 GMT (0730 HKT)
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
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1431 GMT (2231 HKT)
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