Key figures related to ISIL’s Reina attack in Turkey’s İzmir: Report
AFP photoThe key figures related to an attack on a famous nightclub in Istanbul’s Ortaköy just after midnight on New Year’s Day are in the western province of İzmir, authorities have alleged.
Police detained suspects in the province after determining that three families with alleged connections to the Reina nightclub attacker, who is believed to be from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), moved there from the Central Anatolian province of Konya right after the attack.
It has previously emerged that an ISIL militant codenamed “Ebu Muhammed Horasani” resided in Konya before moving to Istanbul to stage the attack, while authorities have also determined that the attacker had connections to the aforementioned three families in the province. Their houses were raided and fake passports and objects used in warzones, including cartridge belts, were found in searches conducted in three houses.
According to newly emerged details, the key figures of the jihadist group were among those detained in the province. Some of the detainees had personal contact with the ISIL militant or had knowledge of the attack beforehand, the investigations revealed.
It has previously surfaced that the attacker boarded a bus in Konya to travel to Istanbul and that he was with one of ISIL’s “emirs,” “Yusuf Hoca,” on Dec. 15, 2016. According to the new details, Yusuf Hoca did not board the bus but also left Konya right after the attack.
Moreover, authorities are evaluating whether another ISIL attack was planned other than the Reina attack. A bag that was delivered by another bus from Konya to Istanbul on Dec. 15, 2016, contained a pistol and ammunition that could possibly have been used for an assassination, daily Milliyet reported.
According to the investigation, a bag with the names of two intended recipients was delivered to the bus assistant. The employee, however, became suspicious about the person delivering the bag and notified police, who discovered a Sig Sauer pistol and nearly 50 bullets in the bag.
Police in Konya then notified Istanbul police, and the people who were supposed to receive the bag, A. Abulizi and O. Asım, were detained. It was determined that Abulizi was related to W. Abulizi, who was connected to the ISIL militant who carried out the Reina attack while he was in Konya. The police later determined that Abulizi had moved from Konya to İzmir.
It is not yet clear whether Abulizi was among those detained in İzmir.
Also in İzmir, security precautions were beefed up in the Aegean Sea upon suspicions the attacker might escape from there to the Greek Islands, Doğan News Agency reported. Authorities have been searching every boat and helicopters are also patrolling the area.
Meanwhile, according to newly surfaced footage, the Reina attacker went to a parking lot after conducting the attack in an attempt to conceal himself. The owner of the parking lot in Kuruçeşme told daily Hürriyet that the ISIL militant tried to hide between cars after seeing the police cars, but left after a short while. He said he understood that he was the attacker after the police revealed his face.
According to another detail, police found that the ISIL militant had sent drone footage of several areas of Istanbul, including Beşiktaş, Bakırköy and Taksim, to jihadists abroad through an app called “Alrawi.”
Militants have been speaking on the app since November 2016, when the attacker arrived in Turkey. The militants also examined the New Year’s programs of several nightclubs and restaurants, the reports said.