9 suspects arrested in connection to ISIL’s Reina attack

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A woman lays flowers by a makeshift memorial in front of the Reina nightclub in Istanbul on January 17, 2017, a day after Turkish police arrested the suspected attacker. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

A Turkish court on Wednesday arrested nine out of 10 suspects detained over an attack carried out by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on the Reina nightclub in İstanbul, claiming lives of 39 people and wounding 69 others on New Year’s Day.

The prosecutor said in his petition demanding the arrest of the suspects that they had conducted activities with Reina gunman Abdulkadir Masharipov and that they have the potential to carry out similar attacks in the future.

All the suspects are accused of membership in a terrorist organization and 39 counts of voluntary manslaughter. The one detainee who was released had reportedly been in custody due to a suspicious border crossing.

One of the suspects, Muhammad Abulhasan, allegedly received arms training in Afghanistan and met with the Reina gunman four times before the massacre.
The prosecutor’s office listed Abdurrauf Sert as one of the planners of the attack, and his connection to the Reina gunman was detected through photos on his cell phone.

In an earlier interrogation, the Reina gunman had said he received the order for the attack from the ISIL leader in Syria by means of the Telegram messaging service.
Masharipov said the head of ISIL in Syria called him to ask for a potential suicide bomber and then offered one to carry out the attack. Later, a man code-named “Abu Jihad” sent him the instructions.

The Hürriyet daily had reported that the terrorist who killed a total of 39 people and wounded another 69 at Reina received arms from a Caucasian Russian-speaking ISIL member two days before the attack in İstanbul. This person reportedly told Masharipov that he could blow himself up as well.

Masharipov, who was initially instructed to attack either İstanbul’s Taksim Square or the Cumhuriyet daily headquarters, was later directed towards Reina by Abu Jihad over Telegram since the nightclub would be more crowded. Abu Jihad also sent footage from inside the nightclub to the ISIL terrorist before he took a cab to Reina on New Year’s Eve.

Masharipov said that before entering Reina, he broke his cell phone and shot a police officer at the gate.

“I have no regrets. I would do it again,” Masharipov had said during questioning by the police, according to a report in the Hürriyet daily last week.

Masharipov was apprehended in a joint operation conducted by the İstanbul police and Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) in İstanbul’s Esenyurt district.
Codenamed Ebu Muhammed El Horasani Abdulkav, Masharipov was born in Uzbekistan in 1983 and was trained as a militant in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and later joined ISIL.

Turkish police reportedly identified the ISIL militant who gave Masharipov the automatic weapon he used in the attack and who took his four-and-a-half-year-old son.

The ISIL militant reportedly told Masharipov that he needed to take his son because he could cause trouble for him during the planning stages of the attack, adding that his son would be returned to him when Masharipov was able to leave İstanbul.

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