Reina nightclub attacker Abdulgadir Masharipov, who killed 39 people in a nightclub attack in Istanbul on New Year’s Eve, has been captured by Turkish security forces late Monday.
The Uzbek attacker was caught in a Daesh terror cell in Esenyurt district of Istanbul after a weeks-long intense hunt conducted by the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT) and Istanbul police.
The Daesh terrorist was transferred to Istanbul Police Headquarters. The moment when the terrorist and his Kyrgyz friend sheltering him was caught on camera.
Police have been after the terrorist since January 1. Security forces have previously raided a house in Istanbul’s Maltepe district and detained Masharipov’s wife, whose identity has been kept hidden. Previous reports stated that his wife and his family members had been detained by police after the attack.
The details behind the attack are expected to be revealed soon as the police captured the terrorist alive.
“I learned about the attack from TV. I didn’t know that my husband was a Daesh terrorist, let alone a sympathizer,” media reports had quoted his wife as saying.
After staging the attack on the nightclub, the terrorist went to a house in Zeytinburnu, where his wife and children were brought to. Masharipov then took his 4-year-old son and went missing.
“We said goodbye to each other and he left the house,” Masharipov’s wife told anti-terror police during her interrogation.
Previous reports have said that after attacking Reina, Masharipov went to Zeytinburnu with a taxi and asked workers at a local Uighur restaurant to give money to the driver. Uighurs were among those detained after the attack, while the owner of the restaurant, identified as Şemsettin Dursun, has denied any connection to the attack.
Reina nightclub attack assailant is Abdulgadir Masharipov. He is a professional terrorist who knows four languages: İstanbul Governor
In a press conference on Tuesday, Istanbul Governor Vasip Şahin confirmed that the Reina nightclub attack assailant is Abdulgadir Masharipov, who was born in Uzbekistan in 1983. Şahin said that Masharipov was trained in Afghanistan, and he is a professional terrorist who knows four languages.
Şahin stated that Masharipov admitted carrying out the terror attack on the nightclub, killing 39 people.
Answering a reporter’s question regarding the links of the terrorist, Şahin said that the police are assessing further intelligence but it is very clear that this attack was carried out on behalf of Daesh terrorist group. He said that it is too early to tell whether he was linked to another group or whether another foreign intelligence agency was involved in the attack.
According to reports, Masharipov’s 4-year-old son was with him in the cell during the arrest. Şahin said that Masharipov’s son was not with him when he was caught. Four other people, including a man of Iraqi origin and three women, were detained along with Masharipov, Şahin said.
He added that the police seized $197,000 from the house where Masharipov was captured.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus posted a message on the social media site Twitter congratulating authorities on capturing the suspect, adding: “Our war with terror and the powers behind it will continue to the end.”
After the arrest, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, thanked police and security organisations “who caught the Reina attacker in the name of the people”.
In the last two weeks, dozens of people across Turkey have been detained and questioned in connection with the deadly assault at the Reina nightclub.
During the attack, the gunman arrived by taxi at the upmarket venue in the Ortaköy district on 31 December and shot dead 21-year-old police officer Burak Yıldız and Ayhan Arık, a 47-year-old travel agent who had been walking past the entrance. He then went inside and started spraying 600 partygoers with bullets. The attacker repeatedly reloaded his weapon to shoot the wounded as they lay on the ground. Citizens of Israel, France, Tunisia, Lebanon, India, Belgium, Jordan and Saudi Arabia were among the victims, and 70 people were injured.
Masharipov allegedly slipped through a police cordon after the attack before going to a house in Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu district, taking his son and escaping, according to sources.