Meticulous police operation behind capture of Reina attacker revealed
Toygun Atilla – ISTANBULA meticulous police operation resulted in the apprehension of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant who attacked a famous nightclub at the heart of Istanbul in the early hours of the new year.
Uzbek citizen Abdulkadir Masharipov, who killed a total of 39 people while wounding 65 others at the Reina nightclub on Jan. 1, was caught 15 days later after police launched a wide-scale operation, tracking every move of the militant.
According to newly emerged information, police lost time after receiving conflicting reports regarding the attack and the number of assailants. Several of the witnesses told police that there were three attackers involved and that some fired on people with pistols. After investigating the footage in Reina, police determined that the Reina attacker was alone and escaped from the nightclub by taking advantage of the chaos. He then boarded a taxi but left his jacket and Kalashnikov at the scene. There was also a total of 500 Turkish Liras in the jacket.
Footage showed the Reina attacker boarding a taxi from Ortaköy and disembarking before boarding another to head to Istanbul’s Ulus neighborhood. After traveling around on foot for a while, Masharipov entered the garden of a house in Ulus. He was attacked by a dog there, but after struggling with the dog, he managed to escape and reached the street. He got on the first taxi that passed before getting out close to the Zincirlikuyu metrobus station. He then got on another taxi to head to Zeytinburnu.
Thousands of instances of footage were examined in the first 24 hours after the attack by the Istanbul Intelligence and Anti-Terror Bureau police, providing crucial information regarding the attack. After obtaining footage of the Reina attacker getting in the taxis, police spoke with their drivers.
It had also previously emerged that he changed three taxis because he did not have any money.
The police later detained five people in connection with the attack at an Uzbek restaurant in Zeytinburnu.
Some 36 hours after the attack, the police located the house in which the Reina attacker hid in Zeytinburnu, conducting an operation that netted two suitcases owned by Masharipov. Police determined that Masharipov escaped from the house before he could take his suitcases.
After finding cigarette butts in the house, police determined the identity of the attacker and deduced that he was in Istanbul.
Police found Masharipov’s wife on Jan. 9 in Pendik alongside her 1.5-year-old daughter. According to the footage, there was a rental car that was used by those who brought Masharipov’s wife and child to the house in Pendik. Police tracked the car and saw that the car traveled between Kayaşehir, Silivri, Esenyurt, Pendik and Zeytinburnu. The police raided over 480 houses in the aforementioned five districts and 214 people were detained in 16 days. Some 52 of them were determined to be connected to Masharipov while others were detained over their alleged links to ISIL.
On Jan. 16, the police determined three houses of interest in Esenyurt, placing them under surveillance. At around 11 p.m. on Jan. 16, police carried out simultaneous raids in the three houses, resulting in the capture of Masharipov under a bed in one of the dwellings. The footage of the moment he was caught has also been obtained by daily Hürriyet.
Some 180 police officers from the intelligence department and 220 from the anti-terror department participated in the operation that lasted for more than two weeks. During the hunt, police banned officers involved in the case from using their cellphones and smartphone applications such as WhatsApp. All of the police officers involved in the operation communicated through encrypted walkie-talkies as a precaution against the possibility that foreign intelligence services were involved in the attack.