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Istanbul’s New Year Attack Mastermind Arrested | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Flowers and pictures of the victims are placed near the entrance of Reina nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey, January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Ankara- Turkish authorities have arrested a Frenchman of Turkish descent suspected of being one of the masterminds of the New Year attack at Istanbul’s Reina nightclub which left 39 people dead and 65 injured.

Officials from the prosecutors’ office in Burdur announced on Tuesday that A.S. was arrested a few days ago.

He was carrying a rent contract of an Istanbul apartment where the attacker, Abdulkadir Masharipov, had taken refuge before he was detained.

The statement of the prosecutors’ office added that the suspect had been living in France since 2009. He faces charges of killing 39 people, attempting to destroy the constitutional order, illegal possession of arms as well as membership of the terrorist ISIS group.

Masharipov requested that he gets sentenced to death despite the fact that Turkey has outlawed capital punishment. He said that his only intention was to kill Christians who were murdering people around the world and still partaking in New Year’s celebrations.

Saying he got weapons training from the Jihad and Community group in Afghanistan, a wing of the Taliban, Masharipov revealed he had been ordered to carry out the attack by “Abu Jihad”.

“I wanted to kill myself so that I don’t fall into the hands of police but I failed to do so,” he continued.

In a related matter, Turkish security forces continued to carry out raids across the country as a preventive measure ahead of the Feb. 25 start of campaigns for the referendum of the constitution set to take place in April.

Turkish police announced the arrest of more than 600 suspects for having ties with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK).

“The main target of these operations is to carry out the referendum without the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP),” said the pro-Kurdish HDP in a statement.

The Turkish government accuses HDP of being a political extension to PKK.