Reina attack survivor was asked in Istanbul case whether he is a CIA agent
Razi Canikligil – PHILADELPHIA
Jake Raak, one of the survivors of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attack on Istanbul’s Reina nightclub on New Year’s Day in 2017, was asked at the March 27 court hearing in the case “whether he was an intelligence agent” or an “employee of the U.S. government.”
“Only the defense lawyers asked me questions. To try to shake my credibility they asked ‘do you work for the CIA?’ and ‘are you an employee of the U.S. government?’ I was asked to say what I saw that night in the Reina club. They asked whether I could recognize the assailant and whether the person on the screen was the assailant. But I had gone to Istanbul to testify and to say a few words to the assailant’s face. I asked permission from the court to stand in front of him in order to speak while looking at his face. I told him: ‘Without that weapon you are nothing,’” Raak told daily Hürriyet on his return to the U.S.
“The suspect’s lawyers were saying things like: ‘It was dark inside the club, how could you recognize him?’ and ‘Weren’t you drunk?’” he added.
Uzbek-origin Abdulkadir Masharipov, the shooter and the main suspect in the case, faces 40 aggravated life sentences for killing 39 people in the early hours of Jan. 1, 2017. Masharipov, who also goes by the name Abu Muhammed Horasani, was captured in the Esenyurt district of Istanbul on Jan. 16, 2017.
The hearings, held in a courtroom in Istanbul’s Silivri prison complex, started on Dec. 11, 2017. Some 56 other ISIL suspects are also on trial within the scope of the same case.
In the second hearing on March 27, the panel of judges hearing the case decided to hold the next hearing on July 18-19 in order to give time for necessary digital reports to be handed to the court.
“The courtroom was so big. There were more ISIL suspects than security guards. Abdulkadir Masharipov was present in the courtroom. I learned that the person next to me was the owner of the Reina club,” Raak said.
The club was demolished five months after the ISIL attack.
After the attack conspiracy theories circulated online in Turkey claiming that Raak was a U.S. agent responsible for the attack.
“Such comments appear after similar attacks in the U.S. Everyone knows from my social media accounts that I graduated from a military school. But I never served as a soldier. I took over my family’s factory, manufacturing funnels for air-conditioners,” Raak added.
In the interview he also stated that he has not received the promised legal support from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), adding that he had to make huge payments for physiotherapy after the attack.