A horrific terror attack hit Istanbul in the early hours of Jan. 1 — and as 2017 opens, the world at large must acknowledge the escalating threat of radical Islamic terrorism.
A gunman burst into the Reina nightclub in Istanbul during a New Year’s Eve celebration and opened fire, killing at least 39 victims and wounding almost 70 more. Of the 39 killed, at least 15 were foreign nationals from countries including Belgium, France, Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, Israel, Libya, and Saudi Arabia. Over 600 people reportedly were gathered inside the nightclub when the gunman began his massacre.
“[The terrorists] are working to destroy our country’s morale and create chaos by deliberately targeting our nation’s peace and targeting civilians with these heinous attacks,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement. “We will retain our coolheadedness as a nation, standing more closely together, and we will never give ground to such dirty games.”
The massacre at the Reina nightclub follows a string of savage acts carried out in Turkey throughout 2016. Of the dozens that occurred, some of the most recent cases include the Dec. 19 assassination in Ankara of Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov at a photo exhibition, and the Dec. 10 double bomb attack in Istanbul that killed 44 people and wounded 149 others. The Turkish cities of Ankara and Istanbul have been targeted severely and in 2016 witnessed the terror-related deaths of more than 180 people.
The Foreign Office listed more than 45 countries where the threat of terrorism is rated “high.”
Although no person or group has yet claimed responsibility for the Jan. 1 Istanbul attack, leaders around the globe quickly condemned it as an act of terrorism.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking on behalf of a country still grieving Karlov’s assassination, sent Erdogan a telegram, saying, “It is hard to imagine a more cynical crime than killing innocent people during New Year celebrations.”
“However, terrorists don’t share moral values. Our common duty is to combat terrorists’ aggression,” Putin added.
The White House also condemned the massacre as a “horrific terrorist attack” and pledged U.S. support for Turkey.
But as the world comes to terms with this latest terror attack, the threat of future massacres and their resulting tragedies looms large over the New Year.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted in her New Year message that Islamic terrorism is the”greatest threat” her country faces in 2017 — even as Germany copes with the aftermath of its “open-door” policies that granted entry to more than 1 million refugees from compromised countries over the past two years.
The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office recently issued a travel advisory warning targeting Germany on its website, saying, “There is a high threat from terrorism.”
“Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in public places visited by foreigners,” the website reads. “There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against U.K. interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.”
The Foreign Office also listed more than 45 countries across the world where the threat of terrorism is rated “high.” Other hot spots included France, Turkey, and Belgium.
“Turkey is determined to continue to fight to the end against terror and to do whatever is necessary to ensure the security of its citizens and secure peace in the region,” Erdogan said.
For his part, President-Elect Donald Trump said that protecting the United States and combating the threat of radical Islamic terrorism would be two of his top concerns when he takes office Jan. 20.
“We will defeat radical Islamic terrorism, just as we have defeated every threat we have faced in every age before. But we will not defeat it with closed eyes, or silenced voices,” Trump said during a campaign event back in August. “But it is time to put the mistakes of the past behind us, and chart a new course.”