Two senior al Qaeda suspects have been captured by Turkish police. The announcement comes after raids were carried out across six provinces on Tuesday in which 22 suspects were detained.
They face charges of helping Al-Qaeda members fighting in neighbouring Syria by sending arms and facilitating travel of fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Syria via Turkey.
The Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) confirmed that one of their storage facilities was raided. The organisation denies all links with al Qaeda and the deputy prime minister was forced to admit the allegations were false. The police chief in charge of the raid was also dismissed.
It is not the first time the organisation has been accused. In January, Turkish security forces stopped a truck loaded with weapons on the border with Syria. The driver claimed to be working for the IHH. The NGO were quick to denounce him as acting alone and not on behalf of the organisation.
Responding to the raid, the General Secretary of IHH, Yasar Kutlay, pointed the finger at Israel, in light of their tense history. “According to Israel, during the Gaza flotilla episode, in one way or another, our organisation was said to use dirty tricks, dirty relationships” he said.
He continued: “In actual fact the flotilla incident unveiled them. Since then, Israel has been wanting to stop our activities by making false claims and creating charges that we are tied to al Qaeda.”
The NGO was the driving force behind the flotilla to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2010. Nine Turkish activists were killed and dozens injured when Israeli commandos descended from helicopters on flotilla ships to prevent them reaching Gaza.
Relations between Turkey and Israel remain strained as negotiations over compensation for the victims and their families continue.