Turkey Nightclub Attack

Edan Larkin, Contributing Writer

Although it is a new year, some things do not change. 2016 laid a terrible foundation of heartache and bloodshed on a global scale. Albeit, mass shootings and gun violence have already presented themselves as problems in 2017 as well.

Turkey especially has faced many attacks in the recent months, and the once popular tourist attraction continues to become less and less inviting. After the coup d’etat attempted in Turkey last summer on top of the rise in violence, Turkey is taking extremely rough and heartbreaking hits to its people and its economy.

On January 1st, many Istanbul residents decided to ring in the new year by celebrating at local nightclubs. Unfortunately, within the first 75 minutes of 2017, the nightclub, Reina, was attacked by a gunman. This shooter sprayed 180 bullets in a building filled with over 600 celebrators.

While ISIS did claim responsibility for the attack over Twitter, the individual shooter remained at large for numerous days. The statement allegedly from ISIS is not verified to have been truly made by ISIS, but it reads as follows, “In continuation of the blessed operations which ISIS carries out against Turkey, a soldier of the brave caliphate attacked one of the most popular nightclubs while Christians were celebrating their holiday.”

Turkish authorities detained 20 ISIS members thought to be in connection with the nightclub attack. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu revealed on January 4th that authorities caught the individual unidentified gunman, yet he did not release the gunman’s name or nationality.

For these reasons, both US and Turkish authorities have confirmed that this was a terrorist attack.

The gunman took the lives of 39 innocent party goers total. These victims were from various countries; including Turkey, India, Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Tunisia, and Kuwait.

One of the first victims killed was a security guard at Reina nightclub named Faith Cakmak. Cakmak, who was from Turkey, previously survived the attack outside of Istanbul’s Vodafone Arena in December, where he had also been working as a security guard.

Hatice Koc was another on-duty security guard the night of the attack who unfortunately lost her life as well. After the December attack that killed 44 people, she posted to her Facebook, “You [Vodafone Arena] were the place I had the pleasure of coming to, the place I looked forward to being deployed to. Now it’ll always hurt when I see you.”

Among the other Turkish victims were Burak Yildiz, a 22-year old police officer; Mustafa Sezgin Seymen, 32, who went to Istanbul with his fiancee; Ayhan Arik, a 47-year old travel agent and father of two; Mehmet Karim Akyil, 23, a restaurant manager visiting Istanbul with his girlfriend for New Years; and Yunus Gomek, 23, who was working at the nightclub during the attack.  

Seven victims were from Saudi Arabia, including recent college graduates, twins Mohammed and Ahmed Suad Al-Fadl, as well as Lubna Ghaznawi, all of whom were 24 years old.

The three Lebanese victims include Elias Wardini, Rita Chami, and Haikal Mussalim. Elias Wardini was a personal trainer who was visiting Istanbul with some friends. His last Instagram photo depicts him smiling alongside Rita Chami, 25, his friend and fellow victim. Haikal Mussalim, 39, owned a fitness club. He traveled to Istanbul with his wife, who survived the attack.

Jordan Parliament held a moment of silence for two Jordanian victims, Nawras Assaf and Mohammad Al-Sarraf. The two men were celebrating the new year in Istanbul with their individual wives. Both women suffered injuries, but they are alive.

Abis Rivali, a 49-year old Bollywood producer who was currently working on a new film, as well as Khushi Shah, a Mumbai fashion designer, were the two Indians shot and killed.

Leanne Nasser is from Israel. Nasser was only 18 and is thought to be the youngest victim in the Reina nightclub attack. Her family actually tried to keep her from going to Turkey because of the recent attacks, but she still decided to go with her friends. One of her friends was wounded, but they all survived. Rani, Leanne’s uncle, responded to this tragedy, “It’s so hard to understand. A few days ago we could hold her and now she is gone.”

The lives of Tunisian husband and wife Mohamed Azzabi and Senda Nakaa were taken by the gunman, forcing the couple to leave behind a five-month old baby. Senda Nakaa was also a French citizen, and the French ambassador to Tunisia said that France will treat the young baby as a ward of the state.

Canadian mother of two named Alaa Al-Muhandia spent a few months in Jordan before making her way to Istanbul. She went to Reina to celebrate the new year. Bulent Sirvan Osman, from Iraq, was a worker on business in Turkey. His wife and two children miss him dearly.

Memet Kocarslan is the owner of Reina nightclub in Istanbul. He recently spoke out about the horrific incident, and within his statement he emotionally describes the pain he feels. “I am so sorry,” he said. “These were my guests. I let them down. I want to do nothing but take care of my guests.”

Hingham High students feel the impact of the attack even from overseas. Catharine Denning, a sophomore, forlornly commented, “Shootings and attacks like this happen so much now. It’s hard to watch and not be able to do anything. And it’s scary to think that it happens so close to home, too.”

Casey Hussey, another sophomore, agrees. Although she stated that she did not know the specifics of this particular attack, she knew enough to say, “It’s really terrible that this continues to happen all around the world. I hope that we can find a way to stop it.”