January 02, 2017 In a statement circulated on social media on Monday, the Islamic State or ISIS claimed responsibility for the New Years Eve attack on a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey. A lone gunman stormed the Reina nightclub and opened fire, killing 39 people including a police officer and injuring 69 others. The shooter, who witnesses say shouted “Allahu Akbar” before fleeing remains at large.
The Anadolu Agency reports that a Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to a media blackout ordered by the Turkish government, confirmed that police in Istanbul arrested eight suspects on Monday in connection with the nightclub attack. The gunman was not among those arrested. The media blackout imposed by the Turkish government has slowed the release of details about the victims of the Istanbul nightclub attack. An Associated Press report on Monday said the club was a gathering point for many nationalities. Victims included an Indian Bollywood film producer, a Turkish waiter, a Lebanese fitness trainer and a Jordanian bar owner. Selina Doğan, an MP with the CHP party who toured the hospitals and the morgue, said the victims included 11 Turks and 24 foreigners from Iraq, Kuwait, India, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon and Israel, a Belgian citizen who is originally Turkish, and a Canadian-Iraqi.
Turkish officials have been on high alert following several terror attacks in recent months. The brutal attacks highlight the role of Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the U.S. lead ‘War on ISIS.” Erdogan has increased counter terrorism efforts to bring stability to the country, but critics say the efforts were too little too late. International terrorism experts have criticized Turkish leaders for their reluctance to engage in the war against ISIS, arguing that Turkey’s decision not to allow the U.S. military and its allies access to bases to launch airstrikes contributed to terrorist group’s rise. Anti extremists, including Kurdish refugees have accused President Erdogan of allowing Turkey’s border to become a passageway for jihadist fighters streaming into Syria to join ISIS and the al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra. Kurdish in both Turkey and Syria have accused leaders in Ankara, the capital of Turkey of siding with the Islamic State.
On October 29, 2016, the U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning to Americans that “extremist groups are continuing aggressive efforts to attack U.S. citizens in areas of Istanbul where they reside or frequent.” The State Department warning further stated:
“Foreign and U.S. tourists have been explicitly targeted by international and indigenous terrorist organizations in Turkey. In the past year, extremists have carried out attacks in France, Belgium, Germany, Mali, Bangladesh, Tunisia, and Turkey. Additional attacks in Turkey at major events, tourist sites, restaurants, commercial centers, places of worship, and transportation hubs, including aviation services, metros, buses, bridges, bus terminals and sea transport, could occur.”
Cynthia Hodges holds a M.A. in Political Science from NEIU in Chicago, Illinois and a Post-Grad Professional Certificate in Disaster and Terrorism Management from University of North Carolina -Chapel Hill. In addition to a successful writing career, Cynthia is in the process of writing a book on the role of private security guards as first responders in the post 9/11 America. "My career has been a balance of security and education, and my passion for Homeland Security while protecting individual's Constitutional rights has grown as a result of the two."