The Turkish press is reporting that Bülent Yıldırım, the founder and president of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), the group which sponsored the ill-fated Gaza flotilla, is under investigation for allegedly funding al-Qaeda:
The probe, led by an Istanbul specially authorized prosecutor, accuses Yıldırım of “providing financial aid to al-Qaeda via his foundation” with absolute secrecy, reportedly without official numbering and identification. A Diyarbakır specially authorized prosecutor has also been leading a similar case into Yıldırım, Habertürk reported.
This would not be the first time a prominent Turk has sought ways to finance al-Qaeda. Cuneyd Zapsu, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who has enriched himself tremendously off his political connections to Erdoğan, donated tens of thousands of dollars to Yasin al-Qadi, designated by both the United Nations and U.S. Treasury as a financier for al-Qaeda. Zapsu’s mother donated a cool quarter million dollars.
Erdoğan, who has embraced the Mavi Marmara flotilla as if it was his own initiative (and, indeed, it may have been as Erdoğan’s political party provided the ship to the IHH) turned around and endorsed al-Qadi. “I know Mr. Qadi,” he declared. “I believe in him as I believe in myself. For Mr. Qadi to associate with a terrorist organization, or support one, is impossible.” Will Erdoğan now declare his everlasting support for Bülent Yıldırım?
President Obama counts Erdoğan as one of his closest friends. The November election may solve that problem but, even if Turkish Ambassador Namik Tan throws good parties and maintains an apologetic face regarding his government’s policies, perhaps it’s time for members of the Turkey Caucus within the U.S. Congress to reconsider for what they stand.