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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Newest videos shed more light on Mavi Marmara raid (part 2)

The Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center showed once again how closely aligned it is with the IDF, as it has posted two videos and one transcript of interrogations with the captain and the chief officer of the Mavi Marmara.

Here is their synopsis:

1. The videotaped statements of two Mavi Marmara crew members show that preparations for a violent confrontation with IDF forces were put in motion about two hours before the boarding began, when the Israeli Navy hailed the ship and told it to halt.

2. According to the statements, the atmosphere aboard the Mavi Marmara was tense and the crew noticed a gathering on the main deck. When they checked the upper deck they discovered that IHH operatives were cutting the ship’s railings with metal disks they had brought with them into lengths suitable to be used as clubs. The crew members said the activities worried them and that they tried to stop the operatives but were unsuccessful.

I put the two videos together; the captain is speaking English and the chief officer is subtitled:



Here's the transcript from the chief officer:


Statement: I was on the bridge after dark, before anything happened, the third captain and I were sent in the direction of the life boats, where there were a lot of people and a lot of noise. The captain told me something was happening down there, there are noises, go see what’s going on. There were a lot of people. I told the third captain, you are more senior than I, come with me.”

Q: When did that happen?

A: Around eight o’clock, I don’t know exactly when, but around eight. I went down the stairs with the third captain. We saw a senior person [from IHH]

Q: Who?

A: That guy.

Q: What guy?

A: That guy. Maybe the third captain knows his name.

Q: The guy from IHH?

A: Yes, from IHH.

Q: Whose name does he know? The name of the guy from IHH who cut the railings?

A: No, the third captain knows him from IHH. We [the third captain and I] went together, we saw a lot of people milling around and we asked what was going on.

Q: Did you see them cutting [the railings]?

A: They [the iron rods] were already cut. It was all over.

Q: Who did the cutting?

A: I didn’t see.

Q: Who was holding the disk?

A: The disks were lying in a corner of the stairs and the senior guy [apparently a reference to Bülent Yildirim] was next to them.

Q: The senior guy from IHH?

A: Yes.

Q: Who did the disks belong to?

A: I don’t know, they didn’t belong to the ship. We don’t have equipment like that on board. On deck there were metal poles with clips for cables, when I got there they had been cut.

Q: When did this happen?

A: When it was getting dark. I asked one of them who cut the poles, and he said he didn’t know.

Q: Was the man you asked a crew member?

A: No.

Q: Did he belong to IHH?

A: Of course.

Q: You seem to be saying that the people from IHH were in control of the ship. Did the crew need their permission to move around the ship?

A: Definitely, they [i.e. IHH operatives] didn’t let people they didn’t know move around.

Q: Did they prevent anyone they didn’t know from moving freely around the ship?

A: Yes, definitely.

Q: And was that from the first moment they went up on deck?

A: Yes, definitely.

Q: How did the IHH operatives communicate with one another?

A: When they [the IHH operatives] got on board in Istanbul they brought walkie-talkies with them. They were handed out to the IHH operatives and the crew.

Q: Did you [the crew] get them as well?

A: Yes, each one worked on a different frequency.

Q: I don’t understand, they didn’t let the passengers and crew go from one deck to another?

A: They could go anywhere except to the control center they set up on the bridge.

Q: How many IHH operatives were there on the upper deck.

A: Forty.

Q: The same forty all the time or did they change?

A: More of less the same forty.

Q: You’re referring to the group that joined the ship in Istanbul?

A: yes.

So it seems more and more clear that most of the passengers of the Marmara didn't know what the IHH plans were and possibly wouldn't have approved; yet they must have known that the IHH had taken control of the ship and was calling the shots - co-opting the European and American flotilla organizers.

It also appears that the passenger/witnesses have closed ranks around IHH, not willing to say anything bad about a group that had violent intent. Keep in mind that the crew here is saying that the IHH was already cutting iron bars and chains at nightfall; they say two hours before the IDF was visible but probably some 6-8 hours before the helicopters arrived (at around 4 AM.)

This brings up the question of, if the boats already saw the passengers with the chains and iron bars from the boat, why the first wave of soldiers still came only armed with paintball guns.

(h/t OR)