The Islamic State has formally taken responsibility for the slaughter at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul, issuing an unusually direct official statement that hailed the still-at-large gunman as a “heroic soldier of the caliphate.”
“In continuation of the blessed operations that Islamic State is conducting against the protector of the cross, Turkey, a heroic soldier of the caliphate struck one of the most famous nightclubs where the Christians celebrate their apostate holiday. He used hand grenades and a machine gun and transformed their celebration to mourning,” read the statement from the terror state, as translated by Al-Jazeera and the New York Times.
“The apostate Turkish government should know that the blood of Muslims shed with airplanes and artillery fire will, with God’s permission, ignite a fire in their own land,” ISIS added, in an apparent reference to Turkey’s military operations in Syria.
Although several terrorist attacks in Turkey have been blamed on the Islamic State, the New York Times notes it is rare for ISIS to formally claim responsibility for attacks in Turkey, possibly because it did not want to provoke the Turkish government into taking more severe actions against it.
Turkey is now fighting both Kurdish militias and ISIS in Syria, announcing airstrikes on Monday that killed at least 22 ISIS fighters on Syrian soil.
Leaders of the Kurdish separatists in Turkey, the PKK, condemned the nightclub attack, and insisted they had nothing to do with it.
The attack on the Reina nightclub in Istanbul killed 39 and wounded 70 at last count. The Times reports 27 of slain victims were foreigners: “Seven victims came from Saudi Arabia; Iraq and Lebanon each had three citizens among the dead; India, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia each had two; and Canada, Israel, Kuwait, Russia and Syria each had one.”
Heavy.com notes that ISIS began circulating a message on social media in December warning Muslims that “to celebrate New Year’s Eve with the kuffar is to embrace their idolatry and paganism and to shun the rulings of our Lord.” Kuffar is a derogatory term for those who do not believe in Islam.
“There is nothing to celebrate. The Gregorian calendar is rooted in kufr and blatantly ignores the lunar calendar and that introduced to follow the Hijrah of our honorable Prophet,” the Islamic State’s theologians insisted.