Gaza Flotilla Organizers Accused of al-Qaida Link

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -

Turkish anti-terrorism police carried out raids in six cities on Tuesday, detaining at least five people with alleged links to al-Qaida, including an employee of a prominent Islamic charity group, IHH, that sponsored the 2010 Gaza flotilla, media reports and officials said.

The Humanitarian Relief Foundation, known by its Turkish initials IHH and which is close to the government, said that police searched its office in Kilis, near the border with Syria on Tuesday, and detained one of its employees there.

The group, however, said it has no ties to al-Qaida and denounced the police raid as an attempt to smear the organization by linking it to terror groups.

“This is a deliberate attack on the IHH,” said Yasar Kutluay, the group’s secretary general. “They are trying to portray the group as an organization with links to terrorism.” He blamed Israel and Gulen’s supporters for the operation.

The group has played a prominent role in providing food and other aid to Syrian refugees in Turkey and its aid workers have crossed into Syria to provide help to people there.