US warned Turkey of potential ISIL attack over Christmas, New Year: Gov’t sources
Fevzi Kızılkoyun – ANKARA
Interior bar of the Reina nightclub by the Bosphorus, which was attacked by a gunman, is pictured in Istanbul. REUTERS photoU.S. officials sent warning notifications to Turkish government officials for Dec. 24, 2016, Christmas Day and for New Year’s Eve, calling on them to be vigilant concerning a potential Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attack, a Turkish government source stated on Jan. 4.
The sources said they received two intelligence messages from American officials, one for Christmas and one for the New Year’s Eve, warning the Turkish authorities that ISIL could try to stage attacks on these dates.
“All our teams took measures at sensitive points. After we passed Christmas without problems, a second terror intelligence note came from U.S. officials. This intelligence was a bit more detailed. It said there might be terror attacks in three different neighborhoods in Ankara and Istanbul. In fact it noted that a sniper might target a famous neighborhood in one of these attacks. Ortaköy was not among the neighborhoods suggested by U.S. officials,” said the source.
Ortaköy was the neighborhood in Istanbul, where the Reina nightclub attack took place, claiming 39 lives.
The attacker, who fled the scene after the act, is still on the run. Turkish officials however said operations continue to apprehend him and they have reached to his identity but his name and nationalist have not been publicly disclosed yet.
Meanwhile, on Dec. 22 the U.S. Embassy in Ankara sent an email to its citizens living in Turkey, reminding them that “extremist groups are continuing aggressive efforts to conduct attacks throughout Turkey in areas where U.S. citizens and expatriates reside or frequent.”
The messaged titled “Security Message for U.S. Citizens: New Year’s Eve Celebrations” also urged U.S. citizens to be “mindful of this when deciding to attend public gatherings for New Year’s Eve celebrations.”