The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant who staged an attack on Istanbul’s Reina nightclub in the early hours of Jan. 1 looks like a professional who received military training on how to use a weapon, according to security experts.
“The attacker is determined, faithful, practical, coldblooded, expert and knows how to get results,” anti-terror expert Abdullah Ağar said.
“He probably fired these bullets before in real clash zones. He had no hesitation in shooting at innocent people. He is absolutely a killer and he most probably shot at humans before,” Ağar added.
Police have released the first footage of the Reina attacker, who killed 39 people and wounded 65 others, with initial police reports suggesting he may be from Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan. Officials are also investigating the possibility that the attacker may be from Xinjiang in eastern China
and aged around 25, according to a report in daily Habertürk.
Elsewhere, details on how the ISIL militant attacked the nightclub have started to surface. It was determined that the attacker got on a cab from the Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul before heading to Ortaköy, where the club is located. He got out of the cab due to heavy traffic close to the club and walked to Reina for four minutes.
The first footage of the attack was recorded at 01:20 a.m., when the attacker is seen walking and shooting towards Reina, causing one person to fall to the ground. He is then seen shooting the guards, who were unarmed due to restrictions on them carrying weapons, according to daily Habertürk. The second footage was recorded at 01:23 a.m. inside Reina, apparently after the attack, when nobody can be seen standing.
According to specialists who examined the footage, the ISIL militant looks professionally trained on how to use the weapon. He can be seen wearing a green shirt, a dark pair of trousers and black boots, firing his long-barreled weapon at people’s upper bodies. Over the course of the attack he changed six chargers and fired over 180 bullets, according to investigations.
It is still unclear how many minutes the attacker spent inside the club before fleeing. He went upstairs after entering Reina and started firing on revelers, before going downstairs to continue shooting. According to witnesses, he also shot people lying on the ground in their head.
He then went to the kitchen of Reina and stayed there for around 13 minutes before changing his clothes, taking off his coat, and escaping from the scene amid continued panic. He also cleaned his weapon before leaving the scene.
He then got in a cab and got out in nearby Kuruçeşme after telling the driver he had no money to pay.
Investigators found a total of 500 Turkish Liras in the pocket of the coat that he left in Reina, and police are investigating whether he was wearing two coats when he entered the club.
Meanwhile, a man whose photo was widely shared on social media as the alleged perpetrator of the attack has applied to a police station with his lawyer to file a legal complaint against the websites that shared his photo. Ramazan İşan, originally from Kazakhstan, said he arrived in Istanbul to work and had nothing to do with the attack.