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‘Violent terrorist’: Who is Brenton Tarrant, the white supremacist suspected in New Zealand mosque shootings?

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Brenton Tarrant, charged with murder in Friday’s terrorist attack shootings at two mosques in New Zealand that killed 49 people, livestreamed his own rampage, the most deadly massacre in the nation’s history. 

Tarrant is a 28-year-old white male with white supremacist views. He captured the deadly incident at Masjid Al Noor mosque in a 17-minute video taken on a helmet camera. 

Here’s what we know about him:

‘Extremist, right-wing violent terrorist’ from Australia

Tarrant, 28, was born in nearby Australia, the country’s Prime Minster Scott Morrison confirmed, according to the New Zealand Herald. Morrision called Tarrant “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist.”

Media reports have found that Tarrant is from Grafton, a town of around 19,000 people in New South Wales, Australia.

Author of an anti-immigrant manifesto

Tarrant is the author of a more than 70-page anti-immigrant “manifesto” called “The Great Replacement,” which according to The Guardian, consists of a rant about white genocide and advocates for “an atmosphere of fear” against Muslims.

He posted the document on Twitter before the shooting. His Twitter account has since been disabled.

‘Just a regular white man,’ he wrote 

In the document, Tarrant refers to himself as “European” instead of Australian and also says he grew up in a low-income working class family, The Guardian reported.

He wrote that his language, culture, political beliefs, philosophical beliefs, and identity are all European and “most importantly, my blood is European.”

“I am just a regular white man, from a regular family, who decided to take a stand to ensure a future for my people,” it says. “My parents are of Scottish, Irish and English stock. I had a regular childhood, without any great issues.”

Had planned attack for two years, he claims

Tarrant describes himself as a ethno-nationalist and a fascist in the manifesto, The Guardian reported, and claims to have planned Friday’s attack for two years. He said New Zealand wasn’t his original choice as a target but had scoped it out for three months.

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In addition to the shooting, police defused explosive devices found in a car.

Worked as a personal trainer at a gym, traveled the world 

ABC reported that Tarrant worked as a personal trainer at Big River Gym in Grafton from 2009 to 2011, when he then traveled in Asia and Europe.  

He also made income through Bitconnect, a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, that he used to help fund his trips. He was described by his gym employer as “a very dedicated trainer” and someone who didn’t seem interested in guns. 

“I think something must have changed in him during the years he spent traveling overseas,” gym manager Tracey Gray told ABC.

Father died of cancer nearly a decade ago

Tarrant’s father, Rodney Tarrant, died of cancer in 2010, when his son was in high school. Gray, his former employer, said she believes that he has a surviving mother and sister.

Some media reports have pointed to his death as the period when Tarrant started to become radicalized. 

Inspired by far-right terrorist Anders Breivik

Tarrant in his manifesto, according to MSN News, wrote that he has read the writings of Dylann Roof, who shot and killed nine African-Americans in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, “and many others.”

But he wrote that he “only really took true inspiration from Knight Justiciar Breivik.” Breivik killed 77 in a terrorist attacked in Oslo, Norway.

 

 

 

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