Experience has taught us to treat skeptically all early news reports of dramatic events like terrorist attacks, because such reports nearly always turn out to be wrong, at least in part. But the attack on the night club Reina in Istanbul seems particularly mysterious, especially given how many witnesses there were.
It is still not entirely clear whether there was just one attacker, as the authorities maintain, or several, as a number of witnesses in the night club claim. The portions of the attack that can be seen on surveillance video, however, show only one gunman.
Early reports that the attacker wore a Santa Claus suit now appear to be false. Several eyewitnesses say that the gunman screamed “Allahu Akbar,” but many news sources, like CNN, have not reported such relevant evidence of Islamic terrorism.
ISIS claims that the terrorist (or terrorists) was a “heroic soldier of the caliphate.” There is no reason, so far, to doubt that this assertion is correct.
The Turkish government has rounded up eight people, who presumably are associated with radical Islam, but the authorities do not claim to have caught the gunman. He is still at large. The authorities have a suspect, and have released a photo of him that is so grainy as to be useless:
There is also a much clearer selfie-video of the suspect that generally resembles pre-attack videos that have been recorded by quite a few Muslim mass murderers, except that he doesn’t actually say anything. You can see the video here. This is a still:
The Turkish police also say that they have the killer’s fingerprints, so one would think he should be in custody before long.
To me, this is the most mysterious aspect of the attack: the terrorist approached the night club and, not being a complete moron, began by shooting the club’s only guard. (The Islamic terrorist who attacked the gay night club in Florida did the same thing.) He then went on a rampage inside the club, reportedly with a Kalashnikov automatic rifle and hand grenades, which lasted seven minutes. He then escaped. At some later point, large numbers of Turkish policemen arrived and sealed off the area.
Given that the murders occurred in the heart of fashionable Istanbul, shortly after midnight on New Year’s Eve, it is hard to understand why the police response was so slow. The noise made by the Kalashnikov and, as reported, hand grenades, would have been very loud. Possibly there is a good reason for what seems like an agonizingly slow response, or likely it was mere ineptitude.
But one remembers the fact that the Turk who murdered the Russian ambassador was himself an elite police officer. Is it possible that the police response in Istanbul may have been compromised by one or more sympathetic Islamic radicals? That, no doubt, is highly unlikely, but if I were a Turk, I would wonder whether my country’s police force is entirely on my side.
UPDATE: One more thought. In most instances, Islamic terrorists either kill themselves or engage in shootouts where they inevitably are killed by police. This terrorist didn’t do that. He was no suicide attacker, he changed clothes and escaped. Did he know that he had official cover, or at least a few minutes to get away? Again, it no doubt is a long shot, but the Turkish authorities should at least look into the question whether this terrorist had official help.