The
gunman behind at least one of the mosque shootings in New Zealand that
left 49 people dead on Friday tried to make a few things clear in the
manifesto he left behind: He is a 28-year-old Australian white
nationalist who hates immigrants. He was set off by attacks in Europe
that were perpetrated by Muslims. He wanted revenge, and he wanted to
create fear.

He also, quite clearly, wanted attention.

Though
he claimed not to covet fame, the gunman — whose name was not
immediately released by police — left behind a 74-page document posted
on social media under the name Brenton Tarrant in which he said he hoped
to survive the attack to better spread his ideas in the media.

He also livestreamed to the world in graphic detail his assault on the worshippers at Christchurch’s Al Noor Mosque.

That rampage killed at least 41 people, while an attack on a second mosque in the city not long after killed several more. Police did not say whether the same person was responsible for both shootings.

While
his manifesto and video were an obvious and contemptuous ploy for
infamy, they do contain important clues for a public trying to
understand why anyone would target dozens of innocent people who were
simply spending an afternoon engaged in prayer.

There
could be no more perplexing a setting for a mass slaughter than New
Zealand, a nation so placid and so isolated from the mass shootings that
plague the U.S. that even police officers rarely carry guns.

Yet
the gunman himself highlighted New Zealand’s remoteness as a reason he
chose it. He wrote that an attack in New Zealand would show that no
place on earth was safe and that even a country as far away as New
Zealand is subject to mass immigration.

He
said he grew up in a working-class Australian family, had a typical
childhood and was a poor student. A woman who said she was a colleague
of his when he worked as a personal trainer in the Australian city of
Grafton said she was shocked by the allegations against him.

“I
can’t … believe that somebody I’ve probably had daily dealings with
and had shared conversations and interacted with would be able of
something to this extreme,” Tracey Gray told the Australian Broadcasting
Corp.

Beyond
his white nationalistic ideals, he also considers himself an
environmentalist and a fascist who believes China is the nation that
most aligns with his political and social values. He has contempt for
the wealthiest 1 percent. And he singled out American conservative
commentator Candace Owens as the person who had influenced him the most.

In
a tweet, Owens responded by saying that if the media portrayed her as
the inspiration for the attack, it had better hire lawyers.

Throughout
the manifesto, the theme he returns to most often is conflict between
people of European descent and Muslims, often framing it in terms of the
Crusades.

He
wrote that the episode that pushed him toward violence took place in
2017 while he was touring through Western Europe. That was when an Uzbek
man drove a truck into a crowd of people in Stockholm, killing five.
The Australian was particularly enraged by the death of an 11-year-old
Swedish girl in the attack.

He
said his desire for violence grew when he arrived in France, where he
became enraged by the sight of immigrants in the cities and towns he
visited.

And
so he began to plot his attack. Three months ago, he started planning
to target Christchurch. He claimed not to be a direct member of any
organization or group, though he said he has donated to many nationalist
groups. He also claimed he contacted an anti-immigration group called
the reborn Knights Templar and got the blessing of Anders Breivik for
the attack.

Breivik
is a right-wing Norwegian extremist who killed 77 people in Oslo and a
nearby island in 2011. Breivik’s lawyer Oeystein Storrvik told Norway’s
VG newspaper that his client, who is in prison, has “very limited
contacts with the surrounding world, so it seems very unlikely that he
has had contact” with the New Zealand gunman.

The
gunman had a long wish list for what he hoped the attack would achieve.
He hoped it would reduce immigration by intimidating immigrants. He
hoped to drive a wedge between NATO and the Turkish people. He hoped to
further polarize and destabilize the West. And he hoped to create more
conflict over gun laws in the U.S., thus leading to a civil war that
would ultimately result in a separation of races.

Though
he claimed not to be a Nazi, in the video he livestreamed of the
shooting the number 14 is seen on his rifle. That may be a reference to
the “14 Words,” a white supremacist slogan attributed in part to Adolf
Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He
also used the symbol of the Schwarze Sonne, or black sun, which “has
become synonymous with myriad far-right groups who traffic in neo-Nazi,”
according to the center.

His
victims, he wrote, were chosen because he saw them as invaders who
would replace the white race. He predicted he would feel no remorse for
their deaths. And in the video he livestreamed of his shooting, no
remorse can be seen or heard. Instead, he simply says: “Let’s get this
party started.”

Then he picks up his gun, storms into the mosque, and cuts down one innocent life after another.

When
it is over, he climbs back into his car, where he has left his music
playing — the song “Fire” by the English rock band The Crazy World of
Arthur Brown. And right after the singer bellows, “I am the god of
hellfire!” the gunman drives away.



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