AFP / File / OZAN KOSE
Thirty-nine people were killed at the Reina night club in Istanbul on January 17
An Uzbek citizen who confessed to killing 39 people at an Istanbul night club in a New Year gun attack claimed by the Islamic State extremist group goes on trial in Istanbul on Monday. Abdulkadir Masharipov faces 40 life sentences, one for each of the victims and the massacre itself, when the trial gets under way at the Silivri prison complex outside the center of Istanbul.
A total of 57 suspects are due to go on trial, including Masharipov’s wife Zarina Nurullayeva, who is a suspected accomplice. All but six are being held in custody. Masharipov was captured alive in a massive police operation and analysts say he has helped in the city. He is facing charges ranging from “attempting to destroy constitutional order”, “membership of an armed terrorist organization”, to “murdering more than one person”. – ‘Russian extremist gave orders’ – After taking a taxi to the elite waterside Reina nightclub on the shores of the Bosphorus, Masharipov shot dead the security guard before marching inside and firing indiscriminately with his AK-47 at the terrified revelers and setting off grenades. With survivors even jumping into the Bosphorus in panic, Masharipov, 34 at the time of the attack, slipped away from the scene as he merged into the crowds, triggering fears he could strike again. The IS extremist group, which at the time controlled swathes of Turkey’s neighbors Iraq and Syria, later claimed the attack. It remains the only time it has issued an unequivocal claim for an attack in Turkey. However, after a 17-day manhunt that involved 2,000 police who watched 7,200 hours of video footage, the Turkish authorities detained Masharipov in the residential Istanbul neighborhood of Esenyurt. Turkish authorities said Masharipov trained in Afghanistan and he was in charge of carrying out the attack on receiving orders from the IS headquarters in the Syrian city of Raqa. According to the indictment, the order for the attack was given by a senior Russian-based Syria IS extremist named Islam Atabiev – codenamed Abu Jihad. Of the 39 killed in the Reina attack, 27 were foreigners from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq and Morocco who had gone to the club to celebrate New Year. According to the indictment, 79 people were wounded. – Uzbeks implicated in attacks – Masharipov, who used the IS codename Abu Mohammed Horasani, was just one of several nationals of the former Soviet state of Uzbekistan implicated in jihadist attacks this year. An Uzbek man in October. A man on a street in New York street. An Uzbek national was arrested after a truck attack in Stockholm in April that killed four people. The overwhelmingly Muslim Central Asian state of independence in the tight secular regime of Islam Karimov who clashed on the Islamist dissent and died in September 2016. The majority of the other suspects are also foreigners, including Uighur Chinese and other nationals of Central Asian states. Turkey was in 2016 Kurdish extremists. However, there has been no further extensive-scale attack comparable to the Reina atrocity since. Istanbul and Ankara remain under the tightest of security and the claims that have been made and the suspects detained. Badly damaged in the attack, the nightclub Reina, the haunt of Istanbul football star and soap opera icons, was broken down in May on the grounds of violated local construction legislation. Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been accused by its Western allies of not doing enough to halt the rise of IS. But the expenses are denied by the Turkish authorities, who has been listed as a terrorist organization in the country since 2013.
AFP / File / OZAN KOSE