The identity of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant who killed 39 people in Istanbul’s Reina nightclub in the early hours of Jan. 1 has been established, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated on Dec. 4, as police continue to carry out detentions in relation to the attack.
“The identity of the person who carried out the attack at Reina has been established,” Çavuşoğlu told state-run Anadolu Agency, while refraining from giving any name.
“Efforts to capture him continue,” he said, adding that the house where the suspect lived “has been searched” and the attack he mounted was “professionally planned.”
Some 40 ISIL suspects allegedly linked to the Jan. 1 nightclub shooting were detained early on Jan. 4 in the Aegean province of İzmir, Doğan News Agency has reported. Twenty children, nine men and 11 women, mostly from Eastern Turkestan, Dagestan and Kyrgyzstan
- were reportedly among the detainees.
Earlier, police had detained 27 people, including members of three families with alleged links to the attacker while he was living in the Central Anatolian province of Konya, in the Buca district of İzmir.
According to newly emerged details, the attacker arrived in Istanbul with his family on Nov. 20, 2016, headed to Ankara, and then went to Konya on Nov. 22. He was reportedly welcomed in Konya by the jihadist group’s so-called “emir” and rented a house in the province. A photograph has emerged of this house, where the attacker paid three months of rent in cash.
He reportedly contacted three families while in Konya and police raided the homes of these families but could not find anybody there as they left immediately after the attack, Hürriyet reported. Two real estate agents in Konya were detained.
Footage of the attacker at the Konya bus terminal on Dec. 15 has also surfaced, daily Akşam reported, adding that he left Konya three or four times after first arriving. The attacker arrived in an ISIL cell house in Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu district on Dec. 29 with the help of the group’s Istanbul “emir” Yusuf Hoca.
According to daily Yeni Şafak, the attacker uses the codename “Abu Muhammed Horasani” in the jihadist group.
Daily Posta, meanwhile, reported that he managed to escape from the area by covering himself in his victims’ blood and pretending he was wounded. According to footage from the scene, he kept his left hand in his pocket, which prompted the security forces to believe he was carrying a bomb.
It previously emerged that he used the phone of the driver of the taxi he used to escape from the area, and upon investigation it was determined that he contacted Yusuf Hoca, who had given the order to carry out the attack, Sabah reported.
It had also previously emerged that the attacker got out of the taxi he used to flee as he did not have any money and got into another taxi to reach Zeytinburnu. There, he asked workers at a local Uyghur restaurant to give money to the driver, and police have since detained seven Uyghur citizens as part of the probe into the attack. The owner of the restaurant, identified as Şemsettin Dursun, has denied any connection to the attack.
According to daily Sözcü, the attacker had conducted surveillance in Istanbul’s Taksim and his initial target was there, but he changed his mind after seeing tight security in the area.
Meanwhile, police have determined that the attacker entered Turkey with a fake passport and arrived in Turkey twice in 2014 and 2015.
In addition, the ballistic report regarding the Reina attack has found that the weapon used by the attacker had not been used before.