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March 16, 2019

NZ shooter also harbours anti-settlers’ venom

Top Story

March 16, 2019

The white supremacist mass shooter who murdered 49 worshippers at a mosque in New Zealand has been identified as a 28-year-old Australian who seemingly spent up to seven years travelling the world and became obsessed with far-right and Neo-Nazi ideology.

Brenton Tarrant will appear in court tomorrow charged with murder after he stormed a mosque in Christchurch, opening fire with a semi-automatic shotgun and a rifle on about 100 defenceless people attending Friday prayers. He live-streamed the shootings in a horrifying 17-minute video posted on Facebook.

He is believed to have met extreme right-wing groups during a visit to Europe two years ago, according to security sources. Investigators are looking at the international dimension of the massacre and whether the gunman, who has identified himself as Brenton Tarrant, has links with violent racist individuals and organisations in Europe and Asia.

Now details of the terrorist's background are emerging, including his upbringing in therural New South Wales town of Grafton which he left shortly after his father Rodney died of cancer when Tarrant was in his early 20s.

He seems to have spent up to seven years travelling the world from 2011 onwards, and one woman who knew him before he left Grafton speculated to Daily Mail Australia that 'something happened to him' during this time. She also recognised him as being the man in the massacre video.

Tarrant claimed in a so-called 'manifesto' to have made money trading Bitcoin, enabling him to travel the world. He also spoke of visiting a wide range of countries including Pakistan, and a photograph showed him on a tourist trip to North Korea.

A picture posted on social media by a Pakistani hotel manager in 2018 appears to show him in the country during his time abroad.

But at some point he seems to have become obsessed with terrorist attacks that happened in Europe between 2016 and 2017. His ranting manifesto is filled with Neo-Nazi ideology and hatred for Muslim people.

Police say they have arrested and charged a man with murder after what appeared to be a carefully planned racist attack. Officers also defused explosive devices in a car. Two other people were being held in custody and police are still trying to determine how they might be involved.

One woman who knew Tarrant before he left Grafton said he worked as a personal trainer who was obsessed with fitness but seemed like a well-adjusted young man.

In a twisted manifesto that he posted online before the massacre, Tarrant described himself as an 'ordinary, white man', who was born into a working class, low income family of Scottish, Irish and English decent.

He said in the document he had 'no interest' in attending university after leaving school. His father died of cancer when he was in his early 20s, and he left Australia to travel the world shortly afterwards.

Prosecutors in Bulgaria have launched a probe into Tarrant's recent visit to the country. He visited Bulgaria from November 9-15 last year claiming he wanted 'to visit historical sites and study the history of the Balkan country', according to Bulgaria's public prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov.

Tsatsarov said he hoped the inquiry would establish if this was 'correct or if he had other objectives'. Tarrant's father, Rodney, who was a competitive athlete, died of cancer in 2010 aged just 49 and his mother and sister are rumoured to still live in the area.

While it remains unclear whether any of his relatives - including his mother - still live in the area, the family is very well known in the region.

The gunman wrote that he had 'little interest in education' growing up, and did not attend university as he had no great interest in anything offered at the schools. He claimed he made some money investing in Bitconnect - a type of digital currency - before he then used the money to travel overseas.

Tarrant, who would later go on to become a personal trainer, inherited a love of physical fitness from his father, who reportedly died of an asbestos-related illness. A woman who claims to have previously known Tarrant through the gym, confirmed it was him in the live stream.

She told Daily Mail Australia that he followed a strict dietary and exercise regime and worked at the gym after he finished school.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, said Tarrant always 'threw himself into his own personal training' before he later became a qualified a trainer and started training others. He was very dedicated to his own training and to training others, she said.

'He was in the gym for long periods of time, lifting heaving weights. He pretty much transformed his body,' she said. The woman also said she had not spoken to him or heard him talk about his political or religious beliefs.

'From the conversations we had about life he didn't strike me as someone who had any interest in that or extremist views,' she said.

'But I know he's been travelling since he left Grafton. He has been travelling overseas, anywhere and everywhere. 'I would say it's something in the nature of his travels, something he's been around. 'I know he's been to lots of different countries trying to experience lots of different things in life and I would say something's happened in that time in his travels,' she said.

In a previous Facebook message about a trip to Pakistan on Facebook, he wrote: 'an incredible place filled with the most earnest, kindhearted and hospitable people in the world,' The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

'The beauty of hunza and nagar valley in autumn cannot be beat,' he stated. Tarrant entered the Al Noor Mosque on Friday during afternoon prayers and opened fire, capturing the attack on a camera strapped to his helmet.

The distressing video streamed to his Facebook profile shows the 28-year-old man firing more than 100 shots at those inside. His guns were scrawled with the names of past mass killers and cities where the shootings occurred.

The gunman's rampage began when he got into his car wearing military-style body armour and a helmet saying 'let's get this party started'.

He then drove to the mosque listening to a Serbian folk song glorifying war criminal Radovan Karadzic and military tunes before parking in an alley around the corner.

After retrieving one of at least six guns stored in his car, he walked up to the front door and began firing indiscriminately at worshippers inside.

The gunman stormed inside and fired quick bursts at anyone he saw. One wounded man tried to crawl away but was shot again after he calmly reloaded.

He fired into crowds of huddled worshippers, sometimes not even looking where he was shooting, reloading numerous times. When then sound of his gun stopped between magazines, the moaning of wounded people could be heard until the shots began again.

Several times he stood over wounded men, reloaded his gun, and shot them multiple times to make sure they were dead.

Tarrant then walked outside and appeared to fire on at least two targets, returned to his car and swapped his shotgun for a rifle.

Returning to the mosque he walked over to a pile of dead or wounded men in the room and began shooting them in the head to ensure they were dead.

Once he was satisfied everyone was dead, he ran outside and shot another person he saw on the mosque's front lawn.

The woman stumbled on to the street and was lying face down in the gutter yelling 'help me, help me' as the shooter walked up to her. Tarrant calmly leaned over her and shot her twice in the head.

Seconds later he returned to his car and drove over her body to make his escape, stopping to shoot at least one other person through his car window.

As he drove he expressed regret for not staying longer and 'burning the mosque to the ground'. Two jerry cans of petrol were earlier seen the the back his car.

'But, s**t happens,' he said. 'I left one full magazine back there, I know for sure. I had to run along in the middle of the firefight and pick it up.

'There wasn't even time to aim there were so many targets. There were so many people, the car park was full, so there's no real chance of improvement.'

Footage from within the Masjid mosque later showed survivors tending to the wounded. In a manifesto seemingly written by Tarrant and shared to Twitter, he mentions being inspired by other shooters including Anders Breivik who killed 77 people in Oslo, Norway in 2011.

He said he 'disliked' Muslims and hated those who had converted to the religion, calling them 'blood traitors'. Tarrant said he originally wanted to target a mosque in Dunedin, south of Christchurch, after watching a video on Facebook.

'But after visiting the mosques in Christchurch and Linwood and seeing the desecration of the church that had been converted to a mosque in Ashburton, my plans changed,' he wrote. 'The Christchurch and Linwood mosques had far more invaders.'

He said he had been planning an attack for up to two years and decided on Christchurch three months ago. The shooter said he was motivated to carry out the attack by the death of Swedish schoolgirl Ebba Akerlund, a girl who was killed in a terrorist attack in Stockholm in April 2017.

Tarrant said he was a supporter of Donald Trump as a 'symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose'. He described himself as 'just a regular white man'. He said he was born to 'working class, low-income family... who decided to take a stand to ensure a future for my people'.

'My parents are of Scottish, Irish and English stock. I had a regular childhood, without any great issues,' he wrote.

The gunman said he carried out the massacre to 'directly reduce immigration rates to European lands'. He said New Zealand was not his 'original choice' for the attack but said the location would show 'that nowhere in the world was safe'.

'We must ensure the existence of our people, and a future for white children,' he wrote. He wrote that the shooting was an 'act of revenge on the invaders for the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders in European lands throughout history'.

'For the enslavement of millions of Europeans taken from their lands by the Islamic slavers... for the thousands of European lives lost to terror attacks throughout European lands,' the gunman wrote.

He shared photos to his now-removed Twitter account ahead of the attacks, showing weapons and military-style equipment. In posts online before the attack Tarrant wrote about 'taking the fight to the invaders myself'.

Ms Ardern condemned the attacker, saying: 'You may have chosen us, but we utterly condemn and reject you.' 'My thoughts, and I'm sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders, are with those who have been affected, and also with their families.' Early reports indicated a shooting at Christchurch Hospital. However, Ms Ardern said the mosques were the lone targets on 'one of New Zealand's darkest days'.

Dozens of families spent the night crowding the front doors of Christchurch Hospital, unsure whether their loved ones had survived. One woman took to social media to ask whether anyone had seen her husband.

'Assalamualaikum [peace be with you] currently we still don't have any news on my husband. Please keep him on your prayer.' The nation's terror threat level was elevated to 'high alert' following the terror attacks, the second highest possible.

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