Saturday, March 23, 2019

Twin Mosque Massacre

Screengrab from shooter's video from, March 15, 2019

A Muslim worshiper prays at a makeshift memorial at the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand 

Brenton Tarrant, the man charged in relation to the Christchurch massacre, makes a sign to the camera during his appearance in the Christchurch District Court on March 16, 2019

Two Fridays ago, twenty-eight-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant allegedly murdered 50 people in cold blood during a shooting spree at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand – a country so peaceful that police officers rarely carry guns. 

It was by far the deadliest shooting in modern New Zealand history. 

The white supremacist had apparently used a helmet-mounted camera to livestream in graphic detail 17 minutes of his rampage at Al Noor Mosque, where, armed with at least two assault rifles and a shotgun, he shot at least 41 people. And seven more worshipers were killed in an attack on Linwood Mosque in the city a short time later. 

Facebook, Twitter and Google scrambled to take down the gunman's video, which was widely available on social media for hours after the bloodbath. 

In the video, the killer spends more than two minutes inside the mosque spraying terrified worshipers with gunfire. He then walks outside, where he shoots at people on the sidewalk. Children's screams can be heard in the distance as he returns to his car to get another rifle. He walks back into the mosque, where there are at least two dozen people lying on the ground. 

After going back outside and shooting a woman there, he gets back in his car, where a song can be heard blasting. The singer bellows, "I am the god of hellfire!" and the gunman drives off before police even arrive. 

A news report had also shown that the mosque killer was caught on camera driving to the scene of the first slaughter. Armed and dangerous, he was allegedly already in his military fatigues with his semi-automatic rifles in the foot-well of the passenger seat. 

Tarrant's Subaru station wagon was captured on film travelling towards Christchurch's Al Noor Mosque – minutes before he allegedly started shooting by a surveillance camera mounted on the wall of a business nearby. 

The film shows the car's distinct blacked-out windows and rear tow-bar. The left hand of a white man can be seen gripping the steering wheel. 

The date is displayed as March 15, 2019. The time counter, set at New Zealand Summer Time, shows 12.38 – about four minutes before the shooting began. 

The same vehicle was captured on film by a passer-by who watched as armed police rammed the car off the road and dragged the driver out at gunpoint. 

During the 30 minutes in between the two films, 48 men, women and children died as they took part in Friday prayers. Scores of others were wounded, two of whom were to later die of their injuries. 

Minutes before the twin mosque massacre, the alleged gunman had posted his twisted hate-filled 74-page “manifesto” – a lengthy and meandering document where he said he was motivated partly by a desire to stoke religious conflict between Islam and the West. 

The suspect even narrated his radicalisation and two years of preparations in a rambling affidavit. He had claimed he was not a member of any organization, acted alone and chose New Zealand to show that even the most remote parts of the world are not free of "mass immigration". 

Last year, the NZ PM had announced that the country would boost its annual refugee quota from 1,000 to 1,500 in 2020. Jacinda Ardern (right), whose party campaigned on a promise to take in more refugees, called it "the right thing to do". 

Christchurch, sometimes called the Garden City, has been rebuilding since an earthquake in 2011 killed 185 people and destroyed many downtown buildings. 

Across New Zealand, Kiwis responded with interfaith solidarity – crowdfunding millions of dollars, donating halal food and even offering to accompany local Muslims now scared to walk the streets. 

Dwight D Eisenhower gave this advice: “This world of ours… must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect”.

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