Istanbul nightclub attacker probably Uighur: Turkish government
ISTANBULThe Turkish government has announced that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant who attacked the famous nightclub Reina at Istanbul’s Ortaköy was probably an Uighur.
“It’s highly probable that the terrorist is an Uighur,” Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said on Jan. 5, adding that the identity of the attacker was known by security forces but was not yet being released to the public.
“It can be understood that he is a specially trained cell member,” he also said.
Several suspects allegedly linked to the attack were detained early on Jan. 5 on the outskirts of Istanbul, police sources told Anadolu Agency.
The Istanbul Police Department’s Anti-Terror Branch conducted an operation on a housing community in Silivri after it received information individuals who might be linked to the attack were hiding in the area.
Charges of aiding and abetting a crime were levied against suspects originally from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in northwestern China, according to sources who wished to remain anonymous and who did not provide additional information about the operation or the number of suspects detained.
Meanwhile, the militant is believed to still be in Istanbul. A major manhunt is underway for the militant who attacked Reina, killing 39 and wounding 65 others.
According to the security forces, the attacker is hiding in a house in Istanbul, daily Yeni Şafak reported on Jan. 5. The daily said police would search each and every house thought to have connections to the attacker.
New details continue to emerge on how the attacker obtained the weapon and which routes he used in Istanbul. He made preparations for the attack for a total of 15 days in Istanbul and had connections in the city’s Zeytinburnu, Kayaşehir and Aksaray areas.
According to newly emerged footage, the suspect is seen meeting İlyas Mamasharipov, ISIL’s Istanbul “emir” who goes by the code name “Yusuf Hoca,” at the bus terminal in the Central Anatolian province of Konya on Dec. 15, 2016. Mamasharipov was detained after the attack, according to daily Milliyet.
According to the daily, the Reina attacker codenamed “Ebu Muhammed Horasani” rented a house in Istanbul’s Başakşehir three days before the attack and left the house at around 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2016, to head to Zeytinburnu.
He met an unidentified person in Zeytinburnu and was seen with a backpack and a suitcase before getting in a cab to head to Ortaköy. He reportedly received the weapon he used in the attack and the ammunition from Kayaşehir.
The militant changed four cabs after the attack and stayed the night at a restaurant in Zeytinburnu. He left the restaurant at around 10 a.m. on Jan. 1 and met an unidentified person in front of the restaurant. The two walked for a while before boarding a car and disappearing.
Furthermore, it was revealed that a selfie video that the attacker took in Taksim was recorded on Dec. 28, 2016. The individual also examined footage of Taksim taken from the air and downloaded them onto his computer.
Meanwhile, ISIL may have staged the attack with two militants, according to newly emerged reports.
Intelligence experts have investigated footage of the attack and have been considering indications that two militants might have attacked the nightclub, daily Karar reported on Jan. 5.
According to footage obtained from Zeytinburnu district in which an ISIL militant is seen leaving for Ortaköy to conduct the attack in the early hours of the new year, the assailant is seen wearing light-colored trousers with pockets. However, the assailant is seen wearing dark-colored and skinny trousers when entering the nightclub to stage the attack.
In a third piece of footage taken inside Reina, the assailant is again seen wearing light-colored trousers with pockets. Subsequent footage taken from a nearby security camera shows the attacker escaping from the scene wearing the same dark-colored and skinny trousers.
It has previously been said the attacker changed his clothes while inside the club in order to escape among the wounded without being noticed. All four pieces of footage starting from Zeytinburnu until the end of the attack fit each other, prompting authorities to believe that another militant might have been involved in the attack. Officials are considering whether a second militant entered Reina before the attack took place and that one of the militants escaped by sea, while the other walked out the door.