The Islamic State (Da’esh / ISIS) terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the massacre that left 39 dead and 70 others wounded Saturday night during a New Year’s Eve celebration at the upscale Reina club in central Istanbul.
Among the dead was a young Israeli woman from the town of Tira, a U.S. citizen, a Turkish police officer and three Jordanian citizens.
The father of Leann Nasser said the attack ended what had been a happy trip for his daughter, and a worrisome time for him, having pleaded with her not to. He told the Israel Hayom news outlet, that from the start, he had been deeply concerned about the trip. “I had a gut feeling something would happen,” he said, “but she wouldn’t listen, and said she wanted to be with her friends and that everything would be okay. So we hoped for the best and prayed.
“Arab blood is no different than Jewish blood when it comes to terrorist attacks. This is a terrible tragedy for all of us, and we still can’t believe it happened,” he said.
Leann’s three friends, also residents of Tira, were at the club as well. One was shot and wounded; she’s in fair condition, and told her father that she heard the terrorist yell “Allahu Akbar!” (the jihadist war cry, ‘God is Great!’) while he was firing. Her two other friends are in severe shock. All three returned on Sunday to Israel.
Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin sent their condolences to the families of those who were injured and murdered, as well as to the Turkish people and government.
ISIS issued a statement one day after that attack via its Aamaq news agency, saying, “In continuation of the blessed operations that Islamic State is conducting against the servant of the cross, Turkey, a heroic soldier of the caliphate struck the most famous nightclub where Christians were celebrating their pagan feast.”
The terrorist managed to escape after shooting the police officer and a civilian outside the club, then spraying gunfire into the crowd within, before shedding an alleged Santa Claus costume and fleeing the premises. He is still at large.