Jacinda Ardern Defends New Zealand Terror Threat Response

Jacinda Ardern Defends New Zealand Terror Threat Response
A police officer stands guard in front of the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 17, 2019, where one of two mass shootings occurred. (Vincent Yu/AP Photo)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she was “devastated” to learn of a threat to car bomb a local mosque which was made in an online forum.

A 27-year-old man was arrested and charged for the shocking pledge this week, less than a fortnight from the second anniversary of the Christchurch Mosque terror attacks.

Online, the man adopted a username similar to Australian terrorist Brenton Tarrant.

The man visited a notorious white supremacist forum and made the threat with an accompanying vow to live stream the attacks—just as Tarrant did.

The post sat online for two days before a member of the public took action. But a local Islamic organisation is angry that the police did not intervene sooner.

Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand national coordinator Aliya Danzeisen said her community was frustrated little had been done to fix holes in New Zealand’s security agencies.

“We have Royal Commission findings relating to their capabilities and their incapabilities,” she said. “The fact that the public is able to find it shows it was easy enough to find.

“The question is how much investment has been made to ensure that our security services are both efficient and effective.

“If they are incapable of doing something the public is doing, then what is occurring to either upscale the agencies or ensuring that people can do it?”

Danzeisen said the threat was “unsurprising.”

“Our kids still gets hate. Our community gets hate. Our leaders get hate. It’s sustained,” she said. “Our community has shown perseverance and our community will continue to do so.

“But it doesn’t mean these issues don’t affect us. It reverberates,” she said.

She wants the New Zealand government to smarten up intelligence services.

Ardern, eager not to be drawn on specifics relating to the case as it is before the courts, defended her government’s response to the threat.

However, she said she was looking at ways to address threats that “drop below a criminal threshold” which are hard for police to deal with.

“Sometimes people are under the assumption that our security agencies see absolutely everything at all times. They don’t. No security agency in the world does,” she said. “Of course we have to be concerned are the threats regardless of the platform that are made very directly, very overtly towards members of any community.”

The 27-year-old man has been remanded in custody until March 19—after next Saturday’s commemorative event for the 51 murdered people in the 2019 terrorist attack.

By Ben McKay
Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
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