Istanbul nightclub killer sneaked into Turkey by sophisticated ISIS network under a secret codename and hidden in a safe house
Disturbing new details have emerged of a sophisticated, undercover ISIS network that infiltrated the Istanbul New Year’s Eve killer into Turkey and used advanced special forces techniques to massacre unarmed revellers.
The killer, reportedly a battle-hardened militant trained in Syria, was spirited into the country by a mysterious ISIS handler codenamed ‘Teacher Yusuf’, according to leaked information published in Turkish media.
The attacker himself was reportedly codenamed ‘Abu Muhammed Horasani’, though his true identity either remains unknown or has not been released by investigators.
It comes as fresh footage emerged showing the suspect walking into a bus terminal in the city of Konya last month and as anti-terror police made a series of arrests in the western city of Izmir.
Both the gunman and his alleged handler remain at large despite the country being in a state of emergency and a massive international manhunt, apparently demonstrating ISIS’ advanced operating capability that experts fear may one day bring carnage to the streets of Britain.
The revelations – which have not yet been confirmed by police but has appeared widely in the leading Turkish newspaper Hurriyet and elsewhere – allege that Teacher Yusuf installed the killer and his family in a safe house in the central town of Konya, in an apartment block where three other families were living, in November.
The other families, thought to be part of the ISIS cell, vanished following the atrocity but were detained by police 300 miles away, in the coastal Turkish town of Izmir, this morning.
The gunman’s wife and two children have been detained by police, but have denied having any knowledge of the suspect’s ISIS connections.
Reports suggest a total of 27 men and women were detained by police in the western Turkish town of Izmir.
They are reportedly from Syria, the Russian Republic of Dagestan, Xinjiang in northeastern China – known by separatists as East Turkestan – and Kyrgyzstan, thought to be the gunman’s home country.
The suspects had 20 children with them, Turkish media reported.
According to the Milliyet newspaper, sniper equipment, night vision binoculars, backpacks, GPS trackers and other military supplies were seized in the raids.
Security has been tightened in Kirklareli, a Turkish town near the border with Bulgaria, amid fears that the Istanbul gunman may try to escape into Europe.
Police officers with high velocity weapons and body armour were deployed at the entrance and exit points of the city, as well as at the Dereköy border gate leading to Bulgaria, Turkish media reported.
In the days leading up to the attack, the terrorist and his shady handler travelled together bus to Istanbul, a journey of more than 400 miles, to make their final preparations.
There they stayed in a second safe house in Zeytinburnu, a working-class district of the capital, carrying out reconnaissance for the massacre, according to reports.
Both addresses have since been raided by police.
The killer was described as highly trained, calm and experienced in urban warfare, but according to Turkish media made one key error: while discarding his jacket after the attack, he left 500 Turkish Lira (£114), all the money he had, in the pocket.
This meant he was unable to pay the taxi fare when attempting to flee from the scene.
The suspect approached a taxi and told the driver he would get money to pay him when arrived at his destination. The offer was refused, however, forcing him to flag down a second cab. This time, he was successful, it has been reported.
The terrorist made a call from the taxi driver’s phone, the Vatan newspaper claimed, but the number had been unavailable for three months. Police believe it may have been used as a decoy.
The suspect was driven back to the safe house in Zeytinburnu, a journey of about 35 minutes, where he allegedly knocked on the door of an Uighur ethnic restaurant and was given the cash to pay the taxi driver.
Seven people of ethnic Uighur background have been detailed by anti-terror police.
It comes as it emerged that the last bullet in each of the gunman’s magazines was a tracer round, allowing him to reload as quickly as possible, adding to the list of advanced military techniques used by the terrorist.
Last night, taxi drivers staged an angry protest outside the scene of the atrocity, driving past in a slow procession sounding their horns before laying red carnations outside.
An intense manhunt continues throughout Turkey and beyond for the nightclub killer, his ISIS handler and accomplices this morning, as the investigation enters its fourth day.
Source: /Daily Mail