Reina attacker reveals more while further attacks foiled
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULJan 20, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Jan 20, 2017 12:00 am
On the fourth day of his capture, suspect Abdulgadir Masharipov has opened up to police on how he came to attack Reina, a popular upscale Istanbul nightclub where he massacred 39 people in the name of the Daesh terrorist group. A battered and bruised Masharipov was taken into custody after anti-terror police stormed a residence in Istanbul's Esenyurt district late Monday where he was hiding out with fellow Daesh sympathizers. His testimony also shed light on the terrorist group's network and helped in the foiling of other possible attacks.
Anadolu Agency has reported that the formal interrogation of Masharipov has not started yet and he was only giving a verbal interview. Based on his initial testimony, police launched new operations and thwarted possible attacks by Daesh.
The terrorist is being held in solitary confinement in the heavily-guarded police headquarters in Istanbul's Vatan Avenue. Masharipov, an Uzbek national, was not fluent in Turkish and English, and his interview was being conducted in Russian.
One of the first questions directed to Masharipov was why he attacked Reina. "I did it because they were infidels," he said, borrowing from Daesh jargon to term anyone it deems an adversary and therefore, deserves to be killed. On the killing of a policeman standing outside the nightclub, he said the policeman shot at him first and he had to take him out to enter the club.
It was also revealed that Masharipov, who was on the run from Uzbek authorities seeking him for membership of a terrorist group, was jailed in Iran for one month in 2015 after he was arrested there for carrying a forged passport. After his release, he sneaked into Turkey through the Iranian border and settled in Konya, a central Turkish city.
He told police he has always been in touch with "Raqqa," the self-declared capital of Daesh in Syria, and that a Daesh "emir" who is code named Hoca Aka approved his original plot to carry out an attack in Taksim Square. He had changed his plans upon seeing a heavy police presence at the busy square.
Turkish media reported that Masharipov's handlers in Raqqa sent him images showing the interior of the nightclub to help him with planning the attack. The terrorist, who was seen wielding an AK-47 rifle and flashbang grenades as he mowed down revelers inside Reina, also told police he thought the flashbangs were actually hand grenades, and fled the scene when he noticed they did not kill anyone.
Acting on Masharipov's first statements during the interview, police carried out raids around Turkey and detained a large number of suspects including someone who helped the attacker during his stay in Turkey.
Anadolu Agency reported that many among the 218 suspects detained following the Reina attack were preparing to carry out attacks for the terrorist group.
Recently, the terrorist group released a chilling video showing a hooded man with a backpack walking by Istanbul's landmarks, a police patrol car, a tram and busy venues, accompanied by a message calling Daesh followers to attack Turkey "to turn a sense of safety into fear." Ahead of New Year celebrations, which attract a large number of revelers to entertainment venues all across the country, Istanbul police has raided sleeper cells of Daesh and some 70 suspects were detained on Dec. 24. Among them were 15 suspects preparing to carry out suicide bombings and armed attacks.