Istanbul nightclub terror suspect stayed with Russian pilot’s killers in Syria
A suspect in a mass shooting in an Istanbul nightclub in which 39 people were killed told a Turkish court that he stayed in Syria with the brigade of Syrian Turkmens who said they had killed a Russian pilot of a plane shot down by Turkey, leftist news website SoL said.
“I stayed in Syria for 15 days. I went there as the guest of the Sultan Abdülhamit Han Türkmen Brigade,” Abuliezi Abuduhamiti said.
“But as I was a guest I did not receive weapons training.”
The Uighur-origin Chinese citizen was arrested in January together with fellow national Omar Asim, and both face charges of membership of a terrorist organisation, the purchase of unlicensed firearms and being accomplices to the murder of 39 people in a mass shooting at Reina nightclub at shortly after the New Year.
The main suspect in the attack, Uzbek citizen Abdulgadir Masharipov, was later captured and confessed to his role.
One of two crew of a Russian warplane was killed after Turkey shot down their aircraft near the Syrian border in November 2015. One of the pilots was later taken back alive by Russian special forces.
“It is not clear what has happened to the body of the other pilot, who was killed by gunfire as he parachuted from his burning plane,” the BBC said.
The Abdülhamit Brigade said it was responsible.
The municipality of the province of Malatya came under criticism in May 2016 for allowing Turkish religious-nationalists to host the Abdülhamit Brigade’s commander as a guest of honour in one of its halls.
Participants made a call for a “sharia constitution” for Turkey.