Qatar regime’s controversial charity funded Turkish group linked to al-Qaeda to the tune of $ 23 million

Abdullah Bozkurt / Stockholm

Turkish charity, flagged by UN Security Council for links to al-Qaeda, received millions of dollars from Qatari charity, also accused of sponsoring terrorism, based on disclosed data obtained by Nordic Monitor.

The Istanbul-based Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid (İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı, or IHH), a charity that works with Turkish intelligence agency MIT, received 85.2 million Qatari riyals ($ 23.4 million at today’s exchange rate) between 2012 and 2018.

The funding, provided in 81 installments over four years by the Sheikh Eid Bin Mohammad Al Thani charity, also known as Eid Charity, began a year after the outbreak of civil conflict in Syria, where the Islamist government President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has funded and armed rebels, including violent jihadist groups, to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The funding, most of which went to fund IHH’s operations in Turkey and Syria, helped fund the organization’s global operations in Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa as well as America. Latin.

The leaked data was obtained by the Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia-based think tank, and shared with Nordic Monitor. Eid Charity has funded not only the IHH but also many other Islamist organizations around the world, some with links to terrorist groups.

Screenshot of the data breach which shows Eid Charity funding for the Turkish charity IHH, as well as many others around the world.

In the Turkish case, with the help of Qatari money, the IHH focused on countries like Myanmar, the Philippines, Cameroon, Bangladesh and Nepal in Southeast Asia, while Muslim groups in Colombia, Haiti, Ecuador and Peru have also been courted by the IHH and listed as funding recipients in Latin America. At one point, the IHH also sent funds to Europe, apparently to help displaced Syrian refugees there. In Africa, IHH operations in Egypt and the Central African Republic (CAR) were also funded by Qatar.

The IHH and Eid Charity have been accused of financing terrorism, particularly Al Qaeda operations in various parts of the world.

Over the years, evidence has emerged that the IHH has provided logistical support to various Islamist jihadist groups, including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The first serious charges against the network of this highly controversial charity were filed by a Turkish prosecutor in January 2014 after a police investigation revealed that the IHH had smuggled weapons to jihadists affiliated with al-Qaeda in Syria.

Eid Charity has kept the fundraising data which it sent to the Turkish charity IHH.

The criminal investigation, led by a prosecutor in Van Province in eastern Turkey, led to the IHH when wiretaps and surveillance revealed that the organization’s Kayseri and Kilis branches were sending funds and medical and household supplies to jihadists in Syria with assistance from Turkey. National Intelligence Organization (MIT), headed by Hakan Fidan, a close friend of President Erdoğan, an Islamist figure.

The prosecutor’s conclusion was that the NGO had participated in the project knowing full well what it was involved in. This was not a random or individual participation, but rather a deliberate project with the knowledge of the senior management of the IHH.

Qatar’s Eid Charity funded and Turkey’s IHH provided logistics by sending 100 trucks to Syria for what they announced as a humanitarian aid delivery in May 2015.

Fearing that the extension of the investigation would lead to senior IHH officials and expose ties to his government, then Prime Minister Erdoğan quickly decided to cancel it. The government fired and then arrested all police chiefs and prosecutors who discovered IHH’s clandestine connections with jihadist groups.

The best description of the IHH’s underground work has been provided by a senior counterterrorism expert who has worked on terrorism for decades and has investigated and monitored radical Islamist groups. In a hearing on August 16, 2016, Ali Fuat Yılmazer, former head of the intelligence section of the police specializing in radical religious groups, said that “IHH campaigns are designed to provide aid to committed jihadists. in terrorism around the world and provide medical aid, funding, logistics and human resources for jihadists.

Yılmazer added that he had personally submitted detailed reports on IHH’s terrorist ties to Erdoğan when he was prime minister. “I also provided very comprehensive reports to the Prime Minister on this issue at the time. These reports are also deposited in the archives of the [Turkish] State. This [the IHH] is one of the main organizations with regard to the activities of Al-Qaeda in the world, ”he declared in court.

Ali bin Khalid al Hajri, President of Project Management at Eid Charity, delivers a speech in the Turkish border town of Reyhanlı before sending trucks to Syria in June 2013 with the help of IHH.

The IHH’s ties to ISIS have also been proven in a court case in Turkey. According to the testimony of a Turkish woman named Merve Dündar, the wife of ISIS activist Mahmut Gazi Dündar, both listed as suspected ISIS suicide bombers and placed on a watch list, the IHH directed logistics supplies to people living in areas controlled by ISIS. large towns and cities. “We were living in ISIS territory and my husband was not working in Syria. we distributed [IHH-provided] supplies to the needy, ”she told the court at a hearing on June 10, 2021.

Nordic Monitor previously reported that the IHH also sent arms to Islamist groups in Libya, using a ship to deliver humanitarian supplies. Problems encountered by the ship during the delivery of weapons were resolved by Turkish diplomats stationed in Libya.

A damning revelation of IHH terrorist activities was made by Russia in 2016. According to intelligence documents submitted to the UN Security Council on February 10, 2016, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, then Permanent Representative to the UN, revealed Russian intelligence documents which even provided the registration numbers of trucks shipped to Syria by the IHH loaded with arms and supplies destined for jihadist groups, including the Nusra Front.

It is not surprising that Qatari IHH payer Eid Charity is also a subject of controversy over its links to terrorist groups. According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, it is “possibly the largest and most influential Salafi-controlled humanitarian aid organization in the world.” Its founder Abdulrahman al-Nuaimi was labeled a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) by the US Department of the Treasury on December 18, 2013. The Treasury said that al-Nuaimi facilitated significant financial support to al-Qaeda in Iraq, in Somalia and Yemen and served as the interlocutor between al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq and donors based in Qatar.

On September 23, 2014, the UN Security Council Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee also added his name to its list of individuals and entities subject to targeted financial sanctions, ban on travel and an arms embargo. Several other Eid Charity officials have also been accused of sponsoring terrorism.

Al-Nuami worked closely with Ali bin Abdallah al-Suwaidi, another Qatari national and managing director of Eid Charity. In June 2017, al-Suwaidi was named as a terrorist financier in a joint list drawn up by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Ali bin Abdallah al-Suwaidi (left), Managing Director of Eid Charity, poses with IHH President Fehmi Bülent Yıldırım in April 2016 in Turkey’s border province of Hatay.

Eid Charity is not the only Qatari organization to have sent funds to the IHH. Qatar Charity, the Sheikh Thani Ibn Abdullah Foundation for Humanitarian Services (RAF), the Qatar Red Crescent and several others have also funded IHH’s global operations.

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