New Zealand has suffered one of its darkest days after a terrorist targeted several Christchurch mosques killing 49 people and seriously wounding 20 others.
The alleged killer, a 28-year-old Australian man who according to reports says his name is Brenton Tarrant, claimed responsibility for the massacre, which he live-streamed as he gunned down Muslim worshippers. Improvised explosive devices were also found in vehicles near the attacks, which the New Zealand military has reportedly disarmed.
Forty-one victims were killed at the Al Noor Mosque, seven died at the Linwood Mosque and another succumbed to their injuries at the hospital.
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the killer as “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist.” She issued “the strongest possible condemnation of the ideology of the people who did this.”
The person who has committed this violent act has no place here. To those in Christchurch; I encourage you to stay inside and follow the instructions of @nzpolice. The Police Commissioner will be making a public statement at 5pm. I will update everyone again later this evening.
— Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) March 15, 2019
The gunman appears to have published a 74-page manifesto for the attack that is making the rounds online and in which he rambled off inspirations, political and otherwise, leading up to this awful day. After revealing that video game Fortnite taught him how to be a killer, the gunman disclosed that he has dabbled in cryptocurrency, writing:
“I worked for a short time before making some money investing in BitConnect, then used the money from the investment to travel.”
He reportedly used the profits to travel overseas across Europe, Southeast Asia, and Asia, which may be where he became radicalized, according to the manager of the gym where the gunman worked.
The returns he earned from BitConnect were the result of a fraudulent cryptocurrency that at its height in 2017 was worth approximately $2.5 billion. The project, which was comprised of an exchange and lending platform, promised investors double-digit monthly returns in a “tiered investment system” that U.S. regulators identified as a Ponzi scheme. BitConnect was shuttered in early 2018 after a chain of events that started with state securities regulators sending cease-and-desist letters to the company for fraud. This ultimately led to the end of the project and a worthless cryptocurrency.
New Zealand is known for being safe, and the shooting has rocked the entire region. While Australia and the UK both have bans on semi-automatic weapons, however, New Zealand does not. It also rolls out the welcome mat for immigrants and refugees.
The gunman came to the small island nation with the sole purpose of training for the attack. Time reports: “He said he chose New Zealand because of its location, to show that even the most remote parts of the world were not free of ‘mass immigration.’”
Tarrant, who according to reports worked as a personal trainer, appears to have warned an online community about the shootings prior to his actions, which he described as an “attack against invaders.” A video of the mass shooting has been shared across social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube despite the efforts of internet companies to prevent the spread of violent content.
The attacks occurred on a day of worship for Islam.