Nation & World

New Zealand shooting suspect says in manifesto he was inspired by violent U.S. extremism

The man charged in the slaughter of dozens Friday in a mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand penned a manifesto saying some of his inspiration came from violent right-wing extremism in the U.S.

The lengthy manifesto was posted online shortly before the horrific attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. Authorities said the gunman, later identified in court documents as Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, appeared to livestream the shooting on social media, starting with video inside his vehicle then leading into a mosque in central Christchurch.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the gunman “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist.” The 74-page manifesto, now taken down from many sites, is filled with white supremacist, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ramblings and contains several references to a phrase that has for decades been a rallying cry for white nationalists.

Known as the “14 words,” the phrase, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,” was coined by David Lane, a white supremacist who died in prison in 2007. Lane was a member of The Order, a violent group formed in 1984 whose goal was to lead a white underground army to establish a separate Aryan Republic in the Pacific Northwest.

In his manifesto, the alleged shooter said he was inspired by Norwegian right-wing terrorist Anders Breivik and praised the acts of others who committed violence, including Dylann Roof, who was convicted of murder and hate crimes in the slayings of nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015.

Tarrant appeared in court on Saturday morning. Authorities said he was arrested after the attack in a car with explosives and guns inside.

The shooting began around 1:40 p.m. at Al Noor Mosque in central Christchurch as the Sheikh was giving the sermon on Friday Prayer. At least 41 were killed at that site, and seven died at Linwood Mosque a few miles away. Dozens of others were in the hospital with gunshot wounds.

Map locates two mosques in Christchurch and Linwood, New Zealand, where mass shootings occurred. j.magno AP

The Anti-Defamation League called the attack “the latest indication that violent white supremacists pose an international terrorist threat” and said it showed that extremists around the world “can inspire others like never before.”

“This attack underscores a trend that ADL has been tracking: that modern white supremacy is an international threat that knows no borders, being exported and globalized like never before,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in a statement issued Friday. “The hatred that led to violence in Pittsburgh and Charlottesville is finding new adherents around the world. Indeed, it appears that this attack was not just focused on New Zealand; it was intended to have a global impact.”

The fact that the shocking video was still accessible on some social media websites, the ADL said, “is a reminder that these platforms need to do more to stem the flow of hateful messages and memes on their platforms, especially white supremacist memes targeting Muslims, Jews and other minorities.”

At a news conference Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump said he didn’t believe white nationalists were a rising threat around the world.

“I don’t really,” Trump said. “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet. We’re just learning about the person and the people involved. But it’s certainly a terrible thing. Terrible thing.”

The alleged shooter referenced Trump in a Q&A section of his manifesto, where he asked himself: “Were/are you a supporter of Donald Trump?”

He answered: “As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no.”

The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, termed the shooting a “barbaric mass terrorist attack against innocent Muslim people of faith.”

“We grieve with those of the Muslim faith community over this terrorist act at houses of worship motivated by Nazism, xenophobia and Islamophobia,” the center said. “We stand with all our Muslim friends and neighbors here, and around the world. We further condemn those, whether actively or passively, who stoke religious hatred against them.”

The alleged gunman described himself in the manifesto as “just a regular white man, from a regular family.”

He said he represented “millions of European and other ethno-nationalist peoples” and that he carried out the attack because “we must ensure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

“We are experiencing an invasion on a level never seen before in history,” the document said. “Millions of people pouring across our borders, legally. Invited by the state and corporate entities to replace the white people who have failed to reproduce, failed to create the cheap labour, new consumers and tax base that the corporations and states need to thrive.

“This crisis of mass immigration and sub-replacement fertility is an assault on the European people that, if not combated, will ultimately result in the complete racial and cultural replacement of the European people.”

He said his mission was to “show the invaders that our lands will never be their lands, our homelands are our own and that, as long as a white man still lives, they will NEVER conquer our lands and they will never replace our people.”

The alleged gunman also said he wanted “to create conflict between the two ideologies within the United States on the ownership of firearms in order to further the social, cultural, political and racial divide within the United states.”

That conflict over the Second Amendment and the attempted removal of firearms rights, he said, “will ultimately result in a civil war that will eventually balkanize the US along political, cultural and, most importantly, racial lines.”

“This balkanization of the US will not only result in the racial separation of the people within the United States ensuring the future of the White race on the North American continent, but also ensuring the death of the ‘melting pot’ pipe dream.”

The man said he’d been planning an attack for about two years and chose Christchurch as the target about three months ago. Though New Zealand wasn’t the original choice, he wrote, “an attack in New Zealand would bring to attention the truth of the assault on our civilization, that no where in the world was safe, the invaders were in all of our lands, even in the remotest areas of the world and that there was no where left to go that was safe and free from mass immigration.”

The alleged gunman appeared to have posted his plans for the attack on 8chan, a controversial online community highly criticized for its lack of censorship.

“I will carry out and attack against the invaders, and will even live stream the attack via facebook,” he wrote. “The facebook link is below, by the time you read this I should be going live.”

Many expressed shock as they realized the alleged gunman was carrying through on his threat. Others, however, posted encouraging comments.

Organizations around the world were quick to condemn the attack. The Council on American-Islamic Relations urged mosques, Islamic schools and other institutions around the world to step up their security precautions and asked that the graphic video not be shared.

“We mourn the heartbreaking killings of men, women and children gathered for prayer in their houses of worship and urge leaders in our nation and worldwide to speak out forcefully against the growing anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hate that appears to have motivated these white supremacist terrorists,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

Awad called on Trump “to speak out against the attacks and the white supremacist motive of the terrorists.”

The organization said it has reported “an unprecedented spike in bigotry targeting American Muslims, immigrants and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as president and has repeatedly expressed concern about Islamophobic, white supremacist and racist Trump administration policies and appointments.”

Judy L. Thomas joined The Star in 1995 and is a member of the investigative team, focusing on watchdog journalism. Over three decades, the Kansas native has covered domestic terrorism, extremist groups and clergy sex abuse. Her stories on Kansas secrecy and religion have been nationally recognized.