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David Matas


By Rhonda Spivak, June 8, 2010

B’nai Brith Canada has called on the Government of Canada to designate IHH, the  Humanitarian Relief Foundation, the radical Turkish Islamist organization behind the Gaza Flotilla incident, as a terrorist entity  under Canada’s Criminal Code and the United Nations Suppression of Terrorism Regulations. 

Winnipeg’s David Matas, renowned international human rights lawyer and B’nai Brith’s honourary senior legal counsel, laid out the justification for the designation in a brief sent to both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Leader of the Opposition Michael Ignatieff.
In his brief, Matas wrote:

“A French intelligence report concluded that in the mid 1990s, IHH president Bulent Yildrim was directly involved in ‘recruit[ing] veteran soldiers in anticipation of the coming holy war [jihad]. In particular, some men were sent into war zones in Muslim countries in order to acquire combat experience.’

“According to Henri Barkey, an analyst for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the IHH is, "an Islamist organization as it has been deeply involved with Hamas for some time."

“In 2006, the Danish Institute for International Studies published a report entitled "The Role of Islamic Charities in International Terrorist Recruitment and Financing", by American analyst Evan Kohlmans stating IHH, while providing genuine humanitarian relief, is a charitable front group that provides support to Al Qaida. 

“The report of the Danish Institute for International Studies also states that the IHH has assisted the Iraqi Sunni insurgency. 

“Reports have surfaced that Turkish authorities searched IHH headquarters in 1997, discovering "firearms, explosives, bomb making instructions" as well as records of calls to an al Qaida guest house in Milan.

“IHH was the subject of a Turkish criminal investigation in late 1997. Turkish authorities concluded that "detained members of IHH were going to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya."

“IHH is a member of the "Union of Good" (Itelaf al Khair, also known as the "Charity Coalition"). According to Palestinian intelligence, this organization "is considered    with regard to material support    one of the biggest Hamas supporters."

“Israel outlawed the Union of Good in February 2002, and the United States named that umbrella group as a specially designated global terrorist entity in November 2008.

“According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the Union of Good was created by the Hamas leadership "in order to facilitate the transfer of funds to Hamas."  Intelligence underpinning the U.S. designation noted that the group "facilitates the transfer of tens of millions of dollars a year to Hamas managed associations." It also "acts as a broker for Hamas by facilitating financial transfers between a web of charitable organizations...and Hamas controlled organizations in the West Bank and Gaza.  According to statements issued by the U.S. government, the primary purpose behind the founding of the Union of Good by Hamas leaders was "to strengthen Hamas' political and military position in the West Bank and Gaza, including by: (i) diverting charitable donations to support Hamas members and the families of terrorist operatives; and (ii) dispensing social welfare and other charitable services on behalf of Hamas."

“According to former investigating judge Jean Louis Bruguiere, who led the French judiciary's counterterrorism unit for nearly two decades before retiring in 2007, that when he investigated the IHH in the late 1990s, "They were basically helping al Qaida when (Osama) bin Laden started to want to target U.S. soil".

“French investigators have found that some members of an international terrorism cell known as the Fateh Kamel network then worked at the IHH. Kamel, an Algerian Canadian dual national, had ties to the nascent al Qaida. Among Kamel's followers was Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian who was arrested in the U.S. state of Washington in December 1999 on his way to bomb Los Angeles International Airport as part of an al Qaida plot.   According to Bruguiere, "IHH had a role in the organization that led to the plot".  Bruguiere gave sworn testimony to that effect in a U.S. Federal Court during Ressam's trial. Bruguiere said the work of the Kamel network was too systematic and too widespread for IHH not to know" their real goal. 

“Part of IHH served to hide jihad type activities, Bruguiere said. He added: "I'm convinced this was a clear strategy, known by IHH."

“The organization Interpal is, like the IHH, a member of the coalition which forms the Union of Good.  Canada has already included Interpal on its list of entities under the United Nations Suppression of Terrorism Regulations.”

In his brief, Matas concluded,
“There is more than enough information already on the public record to raise real concern that this organization uses humanitarian aid as a front or cover to pursue a terrorist agenda.  Because of the Canadian connection to the Ressam case, Canada should pay special attention to the threat that this organization could pose. 

“Listing this organization now would also serve as a timely reminder that the Gaza flotilla was far from a humanitarian operation.  IHH was rather, like much other IHH activity, using the cover of humanitarianism to poke a hole in an arms blockade against the terrorist entity Hamas.  IHH attempted to do this by claiming that a flotilla which the organizers asserted had on board humanitarian aid could not be inspected for arms.”

Matas told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that although B’nai Brith has “not yet” had any dealings with the Turkish Ambassador to Canada in regard to this issue, “we intend to.”

When asked whether currently a Canadian can ‘donate to IHH to get a Canadian charitable tax receipt, Matas replied, “Not as far as I can tell from the official list of charities.  See”

B’nai Brith is asking Canadians to sign the following petition, which will be forwarded to the Government, calling for the designation of IHH as a terrorist entity in Canada: (Please click on the link to add your name to the petition)

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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