Turkish PM Erdogan’s “Love Boat”
First read Barry Rubin’s report on the recent discoveries made on the connection between the IHH and the Turkish government, and the friction between the factions inside Turkish government institutions and the military. KGS
Initial conclusions from questioning passengers and examining equipment on board the ship
1. An initial analysis of statements taken from passengers aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara after it was towed to the port of Ashdod show that operatives belonging to the radical Islamic Turkish IHH1 led the violent confrontation with the IDF.
2. The statements confirmed that the violence met by the IDF soldiers was not spontaneous but rather an organized, premeditated action carried out by a hard core of 40 IHH operatives (among the 500 passengers). The operatives, who acted according to a clearly-defined internal hierarchy, boarded the ship in the port of Istanbul without undergoing a security inspection (as opposed to the other passengers, who boarded in Antalya after a full inspection).
3. The IHH operatives’ preparations included handing out walkie-talkies as they boarded the ship, taking over the upper deck, setting up a situation room for communications, and a briefing given to the operatives two hours before the confrontation by IHH head Bülent Yildirim, who was on board the ship and commanded his men. IHH operatives wore ceramic vests and gas masks, and were armed with large quantities of cold weapons which they had prepared from equipment found on board (knives, axes, metal cables, metal pipes used as clubs, wrenches, etc.). They were also equipped with box cutters which had been prepared on the upper deck in advance.
4. The passengers, including the IHH operatives, stated that there were close relations between the organization and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and that the Turkish government was involved in preparations for the flotilla. The statements reinforce the original assassment that the objective of the flotilla was not merely to bring humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, but focused on provocation and a violent confrontation with Israel.
5. According to statements from the passengers, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan maintains close contacts with IHH. The flotilla set sail with the full knowledge and agreement of Erdogan, who expressed personal interest in its success and his intention to exploit it promote his status in Turkey and the Arab-Muslim world. Passengers said that before the flotilla set sail, Prime Minister Erdogan constructed a scenario based on a possible confrontation with Israel which he could use to further his own needs. The statements were supported by descriptions found in files on laptop computers belonging to the passengers.
6. That was supported by a statement from a journalist who had good connections with the heads of the Turkish government and with Bülent Yildirim, head of IHH. The following are statements from the journalist, who was a passenger on the Mavi Marmara:
A. Prime Minister Erdogan’s power base is built on IHH activists. Without their help he could not have been elected prime minister.
B. The Turkish government was behind the flotilla to the Gaza Strip and its objective was to embarrass Israel: “The Turks set a trap for you and you fell into it.”
C. The flotilla was organized with the support of the Turkish government and Prime Minister Erdogan gave the instructions for it to set sail. That was despite the fact that everyone knew it would never reach its destination.
D. The affair of the flotilla strengthened Erdogan’s status in Turkey and turned him into the leader of Islamic world.
E. Three additional flotillas are expected to sail for Israel and the modus operandi will repeat itself.
F. The journalist stated he had visited the Gaza Strip as part of a humanitarian delegation and his impression was that there was no distress or lack [of commodities] in the Gaza Strip. He added that “everything is propaganda.”
7. In files found in laptops confiscated from Mavi Marmara passengers were other indications supporting the vast amount of information concerning the linkage between IHH and the Turkish government:
A. A letter written in Turkish was found from IHH head Bülent Yildirim to Turkish President Abdullah Gül, asking him to release an IHH operative named Izzat Shahin from an Israeli prison. [Note: Shahin is an IHH operative who was sent as an organization representative to Judea and Samaria. His main activity was transferring funds to Hamas “charitable societies.” He was detained for questioning in April 2010 and later deported at the request of Turkish officials.]
B. According to one file, IHH purchased the Mavi Marmara from a Turkish company called IDO (Filename IHH Basin Agiflamasi Gemi.com) [Note: The Turkish company IDO, Istanbul Deniz Otobusleri was founded in 1987 by the city of Istanbul to provide fast, convenient, safe transportation services for the residents of Istanbul. The company, the largest of its type in the world, united with City Line Ferry Services in 1995 and is today the main provider of water transportation in Istanbul and the Sea of Marmara.]
The Mavi Marmara Passengers
8. Passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara said that for the most part, they had been recruited for the flotilla via the press, television and Internet sites, which publicized IHH contact telephone numbers and email addresses for interested parties. In that way 500 passengers were recruited, most of them volunteers.
9. Besides the ordinary passengers on board the Mavi Marmara, there were 40 Turkish IHH operatives. They were the hard core, composed of Turkish citizens who had been recruited especially for the mission. They had a hierarchy which was clearly-defined according to the part of the country they came from and their missions (each region had its own leaders and recruiters). On board the ordinary passengers were separated from the hard core of IHH operatives.
10. The hard core boarded the ship in Istanbul without undergoing a security check, as opposed to the other passengers, who boarded in Antalya after a full examination (see below). As they boarded they were given walkie-talkies for communicating with one another. Some of them had stickers on their clothing reading “Security Protection [khares amni].”
11. The volunteer passengers were requested to make their own preparations to arrive in Antalya on May 26 and 27. Before the ship set sail there was a meeting in Antalya for a final briefing. Many carried exceptionally large sums of money on their persons (tens of thousands of euros), apparently distributed to them after the ship was detained at sea. The funds were in all probability meant to be transferred to Hamas (the passengers claimed the money was for their own personal use).