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Last week, TheBlaze reported that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan invited the father of one of the radical Islamist activists killed on the 2010 Gaza flotilla to join the official entourage on his visit to the U.S. last week. And while sources familiar with lat week's visit told TheBlaze that the father did not enter the White House or meet President Obama to deliver a personal letter about his son, according to the Turkish foreign minister's Twitter account Secretary of State John Kerry did meet with the father and even posed for a photo with him.
The Turkish news site Hurriyet Daily News reports that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu arranged the breakfast meeting Friday where he, the father (Ahmet Doğan) and Kerry were present. Doğan reportedly updated Kerry on the "pending trial of Israeli soldiers involved in the" flotilla incident.
Foreign Minister Davutoğlu posted the below photo on Twitter:
This is the photo Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu tweeted showing Secretary of State John Kerry, himself and according to Hurriyet Daily News, Ahmet Doğan in the center (Photo via Twitter, May 17, 2013)
The foreign minister wrote that Kerry said he would personally give the letter to Obama.
TheBlaze showed the tweets to a Turkish translator who confirmed the subject matter.
“This morning I had breakfast with my American colleague John Kerry. Ahmet Doğan, the father of Furkan Doğan, one of the Mavi Marmara martyrs, also attended," the first tweet says.
“We shared the events on the Mavi Marmara and Furkan’s pain,” says the second.
And finally: “Ahmet gave the letter addressed to Mr. Obama to Mr. Kerry. Mr. Kerry said that he would pass the letter on to President Obama.”
Our translator notes that "martyr" in this context does not necessarily mean a religious one, but rather it can be used to describe those killed in a political context.
Hurriyet Daily News summarizes the tweets:
Ahmet Doğan, whose son Furkan Doğan was a Turkish-American dual citizen, handed Kerry a letter for U.S. President Barack Obama and gave information about the pending trial of Israeli soldiers involved in the raid.
Kerry said he would personally give the letter to Obama, Davutoğlu wrote on his Twitter account.
Doğan had previously said that he met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan before the start of his visit to Washington to give him the letter he wrote for Obama.
"[Erdoğan] said he could give the letter to the U.S. president, but that it would be better if I gave it to him in person, so he asked me to join the delegation," Doğan said.
No reporters at Friday’s State Department briefing asked about Kerry’s breakfast meeting earlier in the day, nor did the issue come up during Thursday’s briefing. The White House Press Secretary at his last briefing which took place on Wednesday was not asked to react to Prime Minister Erdoğan’s apparent desire to arrange a meeting between the flotilla father and President Obama.
According to Turkish media, the hope was that the father could deliver a letter personally to President Obama requesting the U.S. launch an investigation into the incident in which his son, Furkan Doğan, was killed. Furkan Doğan was a dual U.S.-Turkish citizen who shortly before his death at age 19 expressed a desire to become a shahid, that is a “martyr” for Allah.
As recently as one month ago, Kerry expressed sympathy for the families of those killed on the Mavi Marmara, the ship in the flotilla that Israel Defense Forces commandos boarded after it did not heed the command to stop sailing toward Gaza where a sea blockade is in place to thwart the transport of weapons to Hamas, a group the State Department defines as a terrorist organization.
In April, Kerry compared the American families mourning their loved ones killed in the Boston Marathon bombing with the families of the radical Islamist Turkish activists killed, seven of whom had expressed a desire to become “martyrs,” a term used often by terrorists before carrying out their attacks.
At the press conference in Istanbul, Kerry said (according to the State Department transcript), “I particularly say to the families of people who were lost in the incident we understand these tragedies completely and we sympathize with them.”
“And nobody – I mean, I have just been through the week of Boston and I have deep feelings for what happens when you have violence and something happens and you lose people that are near and dear to you. It affects a community, it affects a country. We’re very sensitive to that,” Kerry added.
Foreign Minister Davutoğlu did not take the time to tweet any other messages during the course of the U.S. visit last week save for the three tweets on May 17 reporting Kerry’s meeting with the flotilla activist’s father. This, even though his prime minister had high-profile appearances including a White House press conference, the laying of a cornerstone at a Muslim community center and a stop in Silicon Valley in the company of 100 Turkish businessmen.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) tweeted about Erdoğan’s visit on Wednesday to the Masjid Complex in Lanham, Maryland, posting a link to an article in The Muslim Link describing the stone-laying ceremony at the 15-acre, $100 million construction site “that will likely become the largest and most striking examples of Islamic architecture in the western hemisphere.”
The Muslim Link reports that the center aims to promote “the values of the Turkish Civilization” and that Erdoğan used the opportunity to criticize “groups promoting Islamophobia.”
All of those killed on the Gaza flotilla were Turkish citizens. During his visit to Israel in March, Obama tried to broker a deal to normalize relations between Israel and Turkey, which included an Israeli apology and an offer of compensation for those killed. In exchange, Turkey was expected to drop any legal proceedings but just last week Turkish lawyers representing the families of those killed – with the help of the African state of Comoros where the ship was registered - turned to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to seek a war crimes investigation.
The Turkish foreign minister’s Twitter account is not marked with the typical blue checkmark as an officially verified Twitter account, but with some 620,000 followers along with the confirmation by the Turkish news site Hurriyet, it has the appearance of being the foreign minister’s bonafide account.
In an interesting side note, while TheBlaze was preparing to publish this story we noticed that the Twitter account associated with the foreign minister started sending out tweets early Monday in rapid succession. In fact, about 50 tweets linking to random news stories from across the United States and Washington D.C. were sent in just over five minutes. Before TheBlaze could screen capture them, the tweets were deleted, leaving the three about the breakfast with Kerry at the top.
We initially did not publish this information, but have decided to add it as an update.
This story has been updated with additional information.