The gunman suspected of carrying out the Istanbul nightclub massacre on New Year’s Day has been caught. According to the Chicago Tribune, the suspect identified as Abdulkadir Masharipov, an Uzbekistan national, was arrested in a sting operation early Tuesday. He was captured in a friend’s house in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district just 25 miles from where he murdered scores of people.
The Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the massacre, saying the act was a reprisal attack against the Turkish military and their military onslaught in northern Syria. Masharipov has been the source of a massive manhunt ever since the attack.
They caught the Istanbul New Years' shooter pic.twitter.com/azZAnL8tRI— Walēd (@thelateempire) January 16, 2017
Hundreds of people had gathered at the high-end Reina nightclub to party into the New Year. Unfortunately, many ended up being victims on the first day of 2017. The suspected gunman had shot a policeman and civilian outside before storming the club and opening fire. Mehmet Dag said he was walking past the club moments before the gunman killed 39 people and wounded 69 others. The 22-year-old man said the gun had “looked” at him and “smiled.”
An image of the arrested shooter showed a bruised, black-haired man in a bloodied shirt, held by the scruff of the neck. A private television channel revealed that the Uzbekistan national had tried to resist arrest. He is expected to undergo medical checks before been hauled off to police headquarters for questioning. The friend that he was staying with and three other people have being detained by police.
A 4-year-old child that was found inside the home is in protective custody. Police had located the Istanbul nightclub shooter five days ago but held off the sting operation to keep an eye on his movements and see if he would make contact with other Islamic State cells in Turkey.
The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in a tweet thanked the interior minister as well as police and intelligence organizations for apprehending the gunman “in the name of the people.” Earlier in the day, the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister had revealed that the Reina shooter had carried out the attack with the help of an intelligence organization. He declined to name the organization he believes provided information to carry out the bloodbath.
The Reina club is one of the most prestigious nightspots in Istanbul, a haven for celebrities and soccer players who hang out there on almost a nightly basis. Past guests include Kevin Costner, Bono, Uma Thurman, Sting, Kylie Minogue and Salma Hayek.
The assassin had calmly stepped out of a taxi before removing an AK-47 from a bag and shooting at will. According to grainy CCTV images obtained by Daily Mail, the gunman is seen casually strolling around and indiscriminately shooting at clubbers for over five-and-a-half minutes. Survivors would later admit that they heard him shouting “Allahu Akbar” as he carried out his killing spree. Some have also said he used stun grenades to disorient people so that he could kill them easily.
Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet Daily New, reported in new footage seen after the attack how Masharipov tried to escape in the ensuing confusion. The initially CCTV footage recorded at 1:20 a.m. on New Year’s Day showed the ISIS militant shooting sporadically as people dove under the tables in panic and others tried to drag their wounded friends from the hail of bullets.
At around 1:26 a.m., he is seen taking off what he wore to reveal a different set of clothes underneath. He tries to blend in with the wounded at 1:27 a.m. while still carrying a stun grenade, but he is kicked by someone and the grenade explodes in his hands, sending him sprawling on the floor. He remains motionless on the ground for around 15 seconds, before regaining consciousness and fleeing from the club.
Fifteen of the dead were foreign nationals from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Lebanon, and Morocco. Other victims included a 27-year-old female private security guard, Hatice Koc’un who was working the night shift that day. The mother of one’s last post on social media was a picture of her kissing the Turkish flag.
After being attacked in the Istanbul nightclub shooting, the victims are being attacked on social media. pic.twitter.com/SPHyAzDCUM— AJ+ (@ajplus) January 5, 2017
Lian Nasser was also killed. The 19-year-old Israeli girl’s father did not want her to travel to Turkey because he felt it was too dangerous. However, Nasser from the Arab majority village of Tira in northern Israel had told her parents not to worry because she was with friends. The police officer gunned down in front of the club was a 21-year-old who had only been on the job for 12 months. Another policeman on duty inside the club was killed. Fatih Çakmak had only less than a month before escaped a car bomb outside a soccer stadium that left 38 dead and 155 wounded.
[Featured Image by Depo Photos/AP Images]