A June 13 exclusive on Intelwire.com entitled “Gaza Flotilla Official Was Foreign Fighter in Bosnia War” purports to reveal the history of Osman Atalay, executive board member of İHH, the Turkish NGO instrumental in organizing the aid flotilla to Gaza intercepted on May 31 by Israeli commandos. Collateral damage from the interception included 9 Turkish humanitarian activists.
According to the Intelwire article, Atalay served in the Bosnian Army from 1992 until 1994. Lest readers fail to equate this act with terrorism, additional condemning evidence is thrown in for good measure:
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the September 11 mastermind, lived and worked in Sarajevo in late 1995, according to [a Bosnian intelligence] document, which says he was employed by a humanitarian organization called ‘Egipatska Pomoc’ or ‘Egyptian Help,’ believed to be a reference to the Egyptian Humanitarian Relief Organization (EHRA).”
Other Intelwire investigations into the nonexistence of well-meaning Muslim organizations include a June 23 report entitled “New Evidence On Terror Links Of Yemen Charity That Received U.S. Grant”, although it is not clear whether the “new evidence” consists of the denial by the spokesman for the Yemeni charity—which is reported as currently benefitting from an allocation of funds by the U.S. Department of Labor to fight child labor and child trafficking—that U.S. drone target Anwar al-Awlaki worked for the charity in the 1990s.
Intelwire’s apparent willingness to implicate the U.S. in what we might call “chari-terror” does not, however, prompt the site to include other potential reports such as “New Evidence On Lack Of Terror Links Of 35 Women And Children Killed By U.S. Cruise Missiles And Cluster Bombs In Pre-Christmas Attack On Southern Yemen.”
As for the recent Intelwire announcement that “New Indictment Says Syrian-American Abousamra Went To Fight Jihad In Iraq,” readers may infer that foreign fighting is only acceptable in Iraq when it is conducted by the U.S. military, its allies, and private security contractors. Other mercenaries currently drawing lucrative returns from the war on terror meanwhile include International Terrorism Consultant Evan Kohlmann, whose 2006-07 report on charitable Islamic contributions to terror outfits surfaced—as Marsha B. Cohen notes on Mondoweiss—in the midst of Israeli government claims on May 31 that the attacked flotilla passengers possessed ties to global jihad, Al Qaeda, and Hamas.
Kohlmann, whose investigative achievements are cited in both the Intelwire article on Osman Atalay’s Bosnian foray and the one on the U.S. Labor Department’s Yemeni facilitation, relies on a 1997 raid of İHH headquarters in Istanbul by Turkish security forces to prove the organization’s terrorist links. Raid details apparently deemed insignificant by Kohlmann include that it took place the same year as the military ousting of an Islamist-leaning government and that the İHH was subsequently acquitted of terrorist charges.
Potentially condemning evidence that Kohlmann and Intelwire have managed to overlook meanwhile includes an İHH publication confirming Atalay’s participation in the commemoration of the thirteenth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, an event which relatives of the deceased tend to blame more on non-Turkish foreign troops such as the Dutch United Nations contingent. Another detail that has perhaps escaped the watchful eye of International Terrorism Consulting is the enlistment of recently-deceased İHH project coordinator Bahattin Yıldız in the battle against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, possibly because foreign participation was not considered foreign at this particular moment in history.
For its part, Israel continues to hype the dangers of foreign influence when it comes to allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza but has refrained from expressing remorse for its role in training Latin American death squads—which have consistently racked up more civilian victims than have employees of Turkish NGOs—or from reflecting on the role foreign funds and weaponry have played in its own genocidal endeavors. Islamic areas of the globe might meanwhile do well to adopt the Israeli model of immediate citizenship eligibility such that Muslims desiring to engage in jihad abroad might be relieved of the “foreign” denomination.