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    A couple walk past the Reina nightclub on January 5, 2017 in Istanbul, days after a gunman killed 39 people on New Year's night

    What Istanbul New Year Terrorist's Nationality Says About Present Terror Threat

    © AFP 2019 / OZAN KOSE
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    On Tuesday, Turkish security services arrested Uzbekistani Abdulgadir Masharipov, as the suspected gunman who opened fire in a nightclub in Istanbul on New Year's Eve.

    According to sources in the law enforcement the arrest took place in Istanbul's Esenyurt district.

    It is reported that during the operation the suspect Masharipov who had been on the run for two weeks, his accomplice from Kyrgyzstan and three women from Senegal, Somalia and Egypt were arrested. It was reported that the women came to Istanbul in order to prepare and commit terrorist attacks.

    Sputnik spoke in an interview with expert on Central Asia and Afghanistan, Esedullah Oguz, about how Daesh terrorists especially from Central Asia end up in Turkey and where they reside in Istanbul.

    According to Oguz, there are about 4-5 thousand people in the ranks of Daesh and most of them have joined the organization on the territory of Turkey, from where they travel to Syria and Iraq.

    Talking about how this came to be the expert said, “After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 an ideological vacuum was formed in the region. The Central Asian republics have tried to fill in this ideological vacuum based on the local culture and traditions but they could not cope with the task.”

    “Instead, the vacuum began to fill up with Islamists and since the beginning of the 1990s the region came under the influence of the Gulf states from where radical Islamist organizations, under the guise of charity started making way their way into Central Asia,” Oguz said.

    He further said that these organizations run madrassas, schools giving courses from the Quran. Back in the 1990’s when this started Daesh did not exist yet, but the Taliban and al-Qaeda were quite active.

    “However, since the beginning of 2000s, the activities of such organization have markedly gone up,” the expert said.

    According to him, with the advent of Daesh this process has accelerated further more. Radical young people fall under the influence of religious sects and Islamist organizations, which later are brought from Central Asia into Turkey.

    “These sects have links with various groups, they bring people from Central Asia, provide them with housing, food, and with other necessary items. Here they undergo ideological training and preparation for jihad.”

    Subsequently, they either go to Iraq or Syria, or return home to Central Asia where they continue their terrorist activities in the structure of secret cells.

    According to Oguz, these radicals have one favorite location in Istanbul where they reside, the district of Zeytinburnu.

    “It was in this district that Masharipov rented an apartment and where he returned to pick up his things immediately after carrying out the terrorist attack on January 1,” Oguz said.

    He further added that a lot of ex-Taliban fighters live in this district and they have no documents, and no passports.

    “If the security forces conducted even a cursory search on the main streets of Zeytinburnu district they would see that every second person here is an illegal immigrant.

    The police know about this but have not taken any measures against it,” Oguz said.

    The insurgents arriving from Central Asia are granted asylum, given material support, moral and technical assistance and all of these resources come from “radical cells” sponsored by various sources.

    In order to be able to provide the radicals with such a support, these sponsors must have certain interested forces on their side, the expert concluded.

    Masharipov, of Uzbek origin, carried out a terrorist attack in Istanbul's Reina nightclub on January 1, killing 39 people and wounding almost 70 others. Daesh is outlawed in many countries, including Russia and has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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    jihad, radicalization, civilian deaths, interview, jihadist cell, terror attack, Taliban, Daesh, Istanbul, Turkey
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