An Islamic State terrorist tied to the deadly New Year’s Eve attack on an Istanbul nightclub was killed this month by U.S. ground forces in Syria, U.S. military officials said Friday.
U.S. Central Command confirmed the death of Abdurakhmon Uzbeki, who was the target of an operation near Mayadin, in eastern Syria, on April 6.
Officials described Uzbeki as a “close associate” of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who was deeply involved in planning terror attacks outside Iraq and Syria, including the attack on the Reina nightclub that left 39 people dead.
“We have clearly linked him with the Istanbul New Year’s Eve bombing,” Central Command spokesman Colonel John Thomas said Friday, adding that the United States had been tracking Uzbeki for some time.
Thomas said Uzbeki also had played a key role in facilitating the movement of IS funds and foreign fighters, and “was known to interact with [Baghdadi] in various ways over time.”
U.S. officials declined to explain how they linked Uzbeki to the nightclub attack, but they said he was a native of Uzbekistan. The main suspect in the attack on the Reina nightclub, Abdulkadir Masharipov, also was from Uzbekistan.
Turkish officials described Masharipov, who they say confessed to the attack, as a “well-trained” terrorist who speaks four languages.
Turkish media cited intelligence sources as saying at the time that the two-week manhunt for Masharipov had uncovered as many as 20 IS networks in Turkey.