On Tuesday, Turkish police were questioning the suspected jihadist gunmen who killed 39 people during a New Year’s attack on an Istanbul nightclub after capturing him in a special operations police raid on a house in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district.
A member of the Daesh terrorist group, the alleged assailant, named as Abdulgadir Masharipov (34), who was found along with his four-year-old son in a apartment, had been staying in the house belonging to a friend from Kyrgyzstan. Four people, including a man of Kyrgyz origin and three women — from Egypt, Somalia, and Senegal — were detained along with Masharipov. The suspect was to undergo medical checks before being taken to police headquarters for questioning. The son is under protection. Operations against Daesh cells in five Istanbul districts resulted in several arrests early Tuesday.
He was reportedly trying to hide under the bed when police raided the house, in which the suspects had resided for some time.
The attacker had been on the run for 17 days, after slipping into the night following the attack on the glamorous Reina nightclub on the Bosphorus.
Reports had previously suggested he never left the Turkish metropolis, despite a tightening of borders in a bid to stop him escaping, triggering fears that a dangerous killer was on the loose in the city.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the nightclub massacre, saying the attack in the first hours of January 1 was in reprisal for Turkish military operations in northern Syria. It was the first time they openly claimed a major attack in Turkey.
The suspect was caught in an operation jointly carried out by the Turkish police and the spy agency MIT. Security forces had formed a special team of 1,000 to apprehend the attacker. After apprehending Masharipov and the others, they also conducted a six-hour inspection inside the house.
The mass shooting at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul’s Ortaköy neighborhood early on Jan. 1 was carried out professionally with the involvement of an intelligence organization, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said Jan. 16.
Images of the suspected attacker released by police during the manhunt were taken from a chilling silent video he purportedly took on Istanbul’s Taksim Square with a selfie stick, before carrying out the carnage.
The alleged gunman’s wife and 1-year old daughter were caught in a police operation on January 12. Police established his whereabouts four or five days ago, but delayed the raid so they could monitor his movements and contacts.
On January 15, police reportedly determined a house in Silivri which was used by Masharipov, who is accused of being an Uzbek Islamic State Iraq and Levant (ISIL) militant. Police raided the address and found $150,000 in the house. Police also said the money was to be given to Masharipov but that he was unable to obtain the money due to the intense police hunt. He allegedly slipped through a police cordon after the attack before going to the house in Zeytinburnu district, taking his son and escaping.
Turkish media reports had said that the gunman was a well-trained killer, who had fought for Islamic State in Syria and had gained weapons expertise there.
Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu posted a twitter message thanking the interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, police and intelligence organizations “who caught the Reina attacker in the name of the people.”