The terrorist who killed 39 on New Year's in a nightclub in Istanbul was arrested by an Istanbul court over the weekend pending his trial. Abdulgadir Masharipov, a Daesh member, was caught by police on Jan. 16 in a luxury housing block in Esenyurt, Istanbul together with his suspected accomplices, Ali Jameel Mohammed of Iraqi origin and three women from Egypt, Senegal and Somalia,.
The 34-year-old, who entered Turkey in January 2016, stormed Reina nightclub on the Bosporus shore with an AK-47 rifle in hand and murdered revelers, mostly Arab tourists.
Masharipov is facing charges of attempt to overturn constitutional order, membership of an armed terrorist group, multiple murders and several crimes linked to weapons. The court ordered his arrest at the prison in Silivri, Istanbul pending his trial. He will be held in a solidary cell under special protection.
During his questioning, the Uzbek national told the authorities he visited the scene of the attack in Ortaköy earlier in the evening before returning to get his weapons and carry out the attack. He said he wanted to commit suicide after finishing his ammunition but realized later that the Flash Bang, stun grenades, he was given by a Daesh member were not explosives. The last Flash Bang blew up in his face, injuries allowing him to flee through police barrier by posing as one of the victims. He told the prosecutor that the special forces police officers believing he was a victim had helped him out and left him by the road. As he was fleeing, police officers dressed in civilian attire stopped him, but let him go after he said he was injured by a bomb.
Masharipov testified that he originally intended to carry out an attack in Istanbul's popular Taksim Square on New Year's but changed his target after realizing the security was too tight.
It was also learned that Masharipov recorded a video days before the attack, declaring his intention to carry out a suicide bomb attack, asking his family to coach his son to be a suicide bomber in the future. His 4-year-old son is still missing. He told the police that a man approached him while he was on the run, promising to keep the boy safe while he tried to arrange his escape route. The police continue to search for the 4-year old and the three other Daesh militants who are allegedly holding the child.
The terrorist is known to have received training in Afghanistan and can speak four languages.
His wife, who is also detained, said she learned about the attack from television. After staging the attack on the nightclub, the terrorist went to a house in Zeytinburnu, where his wife and children were brought to. Masharipov then took his 4-year-old son and went missing. "We said goodbye to each other and he left the house," Masharipov's wife told anti-terror police during her interrogation. Masharipov, after the attack, also went to a local Uighur restaurant in Zeytinburnu, where the police carried out an operation and detained several suspects. According to investigations, he was supposed to lay low for a few days before going to Çanakkale, on the Aegean coast, before traveling to Raqqa, Syria via İzmir and Hatay.
Security forces have carried out nationwide operations against Daesh in the last few weeks, detaining hundreds of suspected members. Meanwhile, the Turkish military in support of the moderate Syrian opposition groups, has broadened its cross-border operation in Syria, closing in on the key city of Al-Bab.