Suspected Perpetrator in Istanbul Nightclub Attack May Have Trained in Syria

Undated photo of a man believed to be the gunman who killed dozens at an Istanbul nightclub / AP
January 3, 2017

The suspected gunman who killed dozens in an Istanbul nightclub on New Year’s Day may have trained in Syria, where the Islamic State has recruited thousands to join its terrorist network, according to Kyrgyzstan security forces.

ISIS claimed responsibility on Monday for the attack that killed 39 people, calling it retaliation for the Turkish military operations against the terrorist group, Reuters reported.

Turkish security forces are still searching for the perpetrator, who fatally shot a police officer and a civilian at the entrance to the upscale Reina nightclub on Sunday before opening fire on patrons.

Some Turkish media reported that police suspect the gunman is 28-year-old Kyrgyz national Iakhe Mashrapov. Authorities said the assailant crossed into Turkey from bordering Syria with his wife and two children in November.

Amaq news agency, the media arm of ISIS, released a statement calling the gunman a "soldier of the caliphate."

Turkish media on Tuesday aired selfie video of the attacker circling Istanbul's central Taksim Square. It is unclear whether the video was taking prior or after the New Year's attack.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said 14 people have been detained in connection to the attack, Reuters reported. Police detained two foreign nationals at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport on Tuesday.