I would have killed attacker, says man who kicked Reina assailant
İsmail Saymaz – ISTANBUL
A man who kicked an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant during an attack in the famous Istanbul nightclub Reina at New Year’s has said he would have killed the attacker if he knew the militant was alone.
“He pulled the pin. I thought it was a hand grenade. He kneeled in front of me and my fiancée. I kicked him saying, ‘No, no.’ The bomb exploded in his hand. If I had known that he was alone, I would have killed him,” 28-year-old T.B. told daily Hürriyet, adding that the ISIL militant, who was recently identified as Uzbek citizen Abdülkadir Masharipov and codenamed “Ebu Muhammed Horasani.”
Recently emerged footage taken inside the nightclub showed the attacker being kicked by T.B., prompting the explosion of a stun grenade.
Some 39 people died and 65 others were wounded in the rampage, which occurred not long after 12 a.m. on Jan. 1 at the posh nightclub in Istanbul’s Ortaköy neighborhood.
T.B. also said he believed Masharipov “definitely had a supporter” inside.
“I think it would have been impossible for him to carry out this attack alone. No one can get out of the club that easily. He planned this beforehand. He came inside freely. I think that there was someone who gave information to him from inside via a cell phone. This man definitely had a supporter,” he said.
Noting that he went to Reina on the night of the attack with his fiancée and a group of friends, T.B. said he lost his friends Mustafa Sezgin Seymen and Mustafa Kaya in the attack.
“We went to Reina as seven people. We were worried when we were going there. There was unease among us, but it didn’t stay after we went inside the club. There were two Moroccan girls near us. One of them was shot in the head and the other in the foot. We thought that there was a fight. We couldn’t hear the gunshots due to the loud music. Then we heard gunshots and laid down. The girls were shocked. I was calmer. The gunfire lasted for five minutes,” he added.
T.B. said the nightclub smelled of gunpowder after the attack.
“We thought he was going to kill everyone. I started to look around after the gunshots stopped. Everyone was lying on the floor, pretending to be dead. We warned the people speaking and moving. My fiancée told me that he was approaching us. I told her to close her eyes and not breathe. He had a stun grenade in his left hand. He pulled the pin with his right hand. He kneeled in front of me and my fiancée and shouted ‘Allahu Akbar.’ Then I kicked him,” he said.
T.B. also described the events that unfolded after the explosion of the stun grenade.
“I lost my vision for 10 seconds and my ears were buzzing because the bomb exploded in my face. You can’t defend yourself after the explosion of the stun grenade. We were ready for the events that could happen after the explosion. We thought he would attack us and waited for him to shoot at us, because the gunshots continued. I thought he wasn’t alone. If I had known that he was alone, I would have done more after kicking him. I would have made a deadly move against him. I had the opportunity to catch and neutralize him,” he said.
While noting that he was saddened by his lack of action, T.B. said, “We couldn’t dare to do it at that moment.”