NZ Lifts Terror Alert From Low to High, Probing Shooter’s Australian Links

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
March 15, 2019 Updated: March 15, 2019

Australian and New Zealand police and intelligence agencies are working closely on the Christchurch mosque shooting investigation.

Police and intelligence agencies are seeking to shed light on an Australian man arrested in New Zealand over the Christchurch mosque shootings.

Brenton Tarrant, originally from the northern NSW town of Grafton, was one of four people arrested over the shooting attacks at two mosques in the South Island city, which left at least 49 dead and more than 20 seriously injured.

In a 74-page manifesto detailing his motivations, Tarrant described himself as an “eco-fascist” in his writings. “I was a communist, then an anarchist and finally a libertarian before becoming an eco-fascist,” he wrote. The manifesto was posted to an online message board shortly before the horrific mosque massacre.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was briefed by agency chiefs on Friday, March 15, and is expected to receive further briefings over the weekend on what he described as the “vicious and callous, right-wing extremist attack.”

“I can confirm that the individual who was taken into custody, I have been advised, is an Australian-born citizen,” he told reporters in Sydney, without naming the man.

“Obviously that element of the investigation Australian authorities are involved in.”

Morrison said he was being kept abreast of developments in New Zealand, as federal and state police along with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation investigated.

“I want to assure all Australians that the immediate responses that are required to ensure the security and safety of Australians have already been actioned,” he said.

Australia’s terrorism alert level has not been lifted but New Zealand’s was lifted from low to high. Morrison said he had heard nothing to suggest any Australians were killed or injured in the shooting.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declined to reveal the nationalities of three other people taken into custody but confirmed they were not on any security watch list.

Two bombs attached to suspects’ vehicles were successfully disarmed.

The Australian National Imams Council condemned the attack and called on political leaders to do more to counter Islamaphobia.

The Australian Ahmadiyya Muslim Community also released a public statement strongly condemns the horrific terror attack on two Mosques in Christchurch on Friday.

“This was a deliberate and targeted attack on innocent worshippers on the most Holy day for Muslims. It demonstrates that terror has no religion and knows no bounds.

The Ahmadiyya Community is the only Islamic organisation to endorse a separation of mosque and state.

I. H. Kauser, national president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Australia and Grand Imam, also released a statement.

“This is indeed a very sad day for all,” he said. “It is critical that at this time we all remain united against hatred, division and bigotry. All extremists share a common goal to divide our community and spread fear and we must make sure they are not successful.

“I urge all to remain calm and continue attending their local Mosques. We must not bow down to the terrorists.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

By Paul Osborne

Additional reporting by Epoch Times Staff

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.