NYT Ties Turkish Group to ‘Terrorism’–by Mixing It Up With a Different Group

Ever since the Israeli raid on a Turkish group’s boat filled with aid for the Gaza Strip, there has been a lot of attempts in the press (FAIR Blog, 6/10/10), following Israel’s lead, to label the Turkish humanitarian group IHH a supporter of “terrorism.”

The latest salvo comes from a New York Times article (7/15/10) about the Turkish group having “extensive connections with Turkey’s political elite.”

The Times reports:

On Monday, Germany banned the charity’s offices, citing its support for Hamas, which Germany considers a terrorist organization. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the charity abused donors’ good intentions “to support a terrorist organization with money supposedly donated for charitable purposes.” The newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung said that from 2007 the charity collected $8.5 million and transferred money to six smaller organizations, two belonging directly to Hamas and four with close ties to it.

The charity called the ban a “disgrace” and “misanthropic” and said it would challenge it in court.

It looks like the reporters on this story didn’t do their homework. Numerous news outlets have noted that the German organization, which shares the Turkish group’s initials, is not connected to the Turkish group that co-sponsored the aid flotilla, meaning that Germany did not ban the Turkish group over “terrorist” ties. (The Turkish group‘s initials stand for Insan Hak ve Hürriyetleri, or Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms; the German acronym stands for Internationale Humanitare Hilfsorganisation, the International Humanitarian Aid Organization.)

A report in Ha’aretz (7/12/10) states: “Despite sharing the name, the German IHH has no connection to the Turkish group that organized the flotilla”; the Financial Times (7/12/10) reports that “IHH Turkey and IHH Germany share the same roots, as they were founded as a single group in Freiburg, Germany, in 1992. But the group split in two five years later”; and a Turkish daily (Hurriyet, 7/16/10) states that “German authorities” say the group split in 1997 and “are now two separate entities.”

The Times also relays the Israeli talking point that “the group has links to Al-Qaeda,” despite the fact that independent journalist Max Blumenthal (MaxBlumenthal.com, 6/3/10) forced the Israeli Defense Forces to retract that false claim.