Abdulkadir Masharipov, the prime suspect in a Jan. 1 massacre at the Reina nightclub in İstanbul who has been under investigation since his capture on Jan. 17, was arrested on Saturday.
Masharipov, who killed 39 people and wounded 69 others on New Year’s Day at a popular İstanbul nightclub, said during interrogation that he received the order for the attack from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (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 terrorist reportedly received arms from a Caucasian Russian-speaking ISIL member two days before the attack in İstanbul. This person 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.
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.