Reina terrorist’s second target was Cumhuriyet
Very important evidence has been accessed during the interrogation of Reina nightclub murderer Abdulkadir Masharipov, who was caught by Istanbul police on Jan. 16. His capture alive helped give information about several of his connections. If only the assassin of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov, Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, had been caught alive we could have learned of any connection between the Karlov assassination and the 2015 downing of the Russian jet. We could have learned who he took the order from and, most importantly, deciphered whether he was part of a FETÖ assassination team.
According to information provided by Masharipov so far, there were three potential targets on the night of the Reina attack. One of them was the office of daily Cumhuriyet in Istanbul. When the Cumhuriyet address was given to him, it was defined as “the newspaper that insulted the prophet.” But they decided not to attack the paper because there would not have been many people there on that night. So Masharipov was directed toward Reina.
He killer checked three different addresses on Dec. 31. He went to Taksim Square and told his partners in Syria that the square would not be suitable for an attack. He told the headquarters in Syria that because of the strict security measures and because of the rain, turnout in Taksim would be low.
In Syria he called Raqqa, speaking to the “emir” for Turkey, who wanted to stage an attack that would be heard worldwide. He then apparently made checks around the Cumhuriyet building in Istanbul’s Şişli district. This could be verified by reviewing camera footage around the paper.
Why Cumhuriyet? In the order sent from Raqqa, it is defined as “the newspaper that insulted the prophet.” The order also makes a connection between the Charlie Hebdo attack and Cumhuriyet. The Charlie Hebdo magazine was attacked on Jan. 7, 2015 in France by ISIL militants, killing 11, after which daily Cumhuriyet printed the Charlie Hebdo cover in the name of solidarity.
Ultimately, Masharipov was directed to Reina. If a different order had come, our colleagues working at Cumhuriyet on New Year’s Eve would have been targeted.
Communication was done through the Telegram messaging app on Masharipov’s mobile. The final order for the massacre at Reina also came through Telegram, accompanied by images of people dancing and having fun in the club. Police have found no evidence of any accomplice inside the club.
It is said that Masharipov has looked very professional during his interrogation. Gravely, he is apparently determined that if he was released today he would stage the same attack again.
After the massacre, he went to see his wife and took his 4.5-year-old son. His plan was to take a ferry to Çanakkale, then to İzmir, and then to Hatay, from where he would cross to Syria. There was his escape plan, but ISIL did not hand him his son, ruining his initial plans.
He said he had married in a religious wedding with the Egyptian woman who was with him from the beginning in Istanbul, identified as Tene Trare.
Tene Trare started talking when it dawned on her that her husband would leave her and run away to Syria, taking their son as well as his Egyptian lover.
Clearly, even if you are a terrorist its best not to play with a woman’s feelings.