News has broken that at least 49 people have been murdered in a terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The terrorist who carried out the attack is a far-right activist who cites numerous themes and statements popular with far right and alt-right figures around the world.
The killer who calls himself “Brenton Tarrant” announced his intentions on both a recently created Twitter account and on the far-right image board 8ch.net/pol/ shortly before starting the shooting rampage. In the 8Chan post he also says that the attack will be livestreamed on his Facebook account.
Judging by low-quality livestream images, the killer’s weapons are adorned with texts and symbols, many of which have clear connections to far-right movements and the names of victims of Islamic extremism. The rifle he uses in the video has the name Ebba Åkerlund written on its side, the name of a Swedish girl who fell victim of the 2017 Stockholm terror attack. Far-right symbols such as the number 14 (in reference an infamous white supremacist slogan, the 14 words), the symbol of the nazi-era Romanian Iron Guard, the Tyr rune used by the Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement and other nazi groups.
The terrorist attacks last approximately six minutes as “Tarrant” is seen on video killing dozens of people in and around the mosque. He remains relatively calm during the shooting, going in and out of the building and callously shooting people attempting to escape as well as firing at the already dead bodies. Leaving the mosque in the car he came with he shoots several more people through the windshield of his car.
A sick and rambling 84-page manifesto was released online in conjunction with the attack, titled “The Great Replacement”.
The screed is a confused mash of far-right ideologies, using tropes and terminology from a variety of far right movements, including:
- “The Great Replacement”, a term popularised by the pan-European youth movement Generation Identity;
- the 14 words slogan popularised by the US white supremacist movement
- tropes from the anti-Muslim “counter-jihad” movement
- references to Oswald Mosely, leader of the interwar British Union of Fascists (BUF).
Whilst there are multiple ideologies referenced here, the title of the manifesto itself is a direct reference to a core tenet of identitarianism; the supposed “replacement” of white or Christian population thorough Muslim immigration. Generation Identity and their de-facto leader Martin Sellner and his network are the most prominent sharers of identitarian ideas in English online. He also frequently expresses ideas that have great similarity to what the Identitarian movement term “ethnopluralism”, arguing for “ethnic autonomy” as one of his core principles.
New Zealand based identitarian group The Dominion Movement, stated that they will cease all activity immediately following the attack, despite not being referenced by “Tarrant”.
The killer states “I mostly agree with Sir Oswald Mosley’s views and consider myself an eco-fascist by nature”.
The numerous ideologies espoused by the gunman are testament to the fact that he claims to have developed his worldview online, claiming that “you will not find the truth anywhere else” other than the internet. He has picked up snippets from multiple groups and mashed them together into a tangle of hate and racism, as evident by the graffiti on his weapon.
That the internet played a role in his radicalisation also seems evident from the few comments he makes in the live streamed video and his social media. His Twitter account shares several Islamophobic memes and the live streamed video begins with the statement “Follow PewDiePie”, a meme that isn’t explicitly far-right but that has been making its rounds image boards like 4Chan and spread by far-right troll accounts.
He also states that he supports several earlier extreme right murderers, including British terrorist Darren Osborne, Swedish school murderer Anton Lundin and Charleston church killer Dylan Roof. However, he states that his main source of inspiration comes from Norwegian mass murderer Breivik who killed 77 people in Oslo and Utøya.
Like many white supremacists, the gunman’s view is global, saying that he is fighting for Europe and the West in general rather than local grievances. The word “Europe” appears 102 times in the manifesto. The two primary inspirations for the killings cited in the manifesto are the 2017 Stockholm attack, in particular the death of the schoolgirl Akerlund, and his disillusionment about the French Presidential elections of 2017, regarding both the candidates to be insufficient. There is also a section dedicated to listing instances of grooming gangs, listing links to Wikipedia articles of 14 different grooming gang cases in the UK (one link shared twice).