Turkish media say police have carried out raids in six Turkish cities, detaining several people allegedly linked to al-Qaeda, including an employee of a prominent Islamic charity behind a flotilla that tried to bust the Gaza blockade in 2010.
The aid organization, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, confirmed Tuesday that its storage facility near the Syrian border was searched and an employee was detained. It, however, denied any ties to al-Qaeda and denounced the police raid as an attempt to discredit the organization.
At least three people were detained in the raids, which started at the crack of dawn, Hurriyet Daily News reported. An IHH representative told the paper that the police confiscated all their computers and thoroughly searched their office.
The IHH was the main backer of a 2010 flotilla that tried to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza. An Israeli commando raid on the ship, intercepting it after it refused to change course, prompted a melee in which nine Turks were killed and several Israeli soldiers injured. The incident put ties between Israel and Turkey on ice and gave Jerusalem a black eye in the international arena.
In their Twitter feed, the IHH said the Turkish police raid was a “dirty operation” and that it was “very meaningful” that it was carried out after what it claimed was a statement last week by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who, according to the IHH, said the organization was “the biggest danger to Israel.”
Last week, the group rejected some news reports claiming that it was involved in a shipment of arms to Syria.