WASHINGTON –The United States is investigating whether to add the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) to its official list of terrorist organizations, a State Department spokesman has said, the Anatolian News Agency reported.
Acting deputy spokesman Mark C. Toner told reporters at a daily press briefing Wednesday that the inquiry began after a bipartisan group of 87 senators called on U.S. President Barack Obama to consider putting the IHH on the list of foreign terrorist organizations.
The senators’ letter to the president came shortly after Israeli commandos raided an IHH aid ship bound for Gaza, killing eight Turks and one American citizen of Turkish descent.
In response to a question from a reporter about whether the Department of State’s investigation was ongoing, Toner downplayed the inquiry.
“I believe we’re looking at the IHH, but it’s a long process to designate something – an organization – a foreign terrorist organization and there’s nothing to announce on that,” Toner said.
The May 31 raid heightened already-tense relations between Israel and Turkey, which condemned the attack as an act of “state terror.” Israel has maintained that its commandos acted in self-defense and has launched its own inquiry while Turkey has called for an international investigation.