Accused Christchurch shooter posted Facebook image of Al Noor mosque days before attack

| 30.03,19. 02:49 PM |


Accused Christchurch shooter posted Facebook image of Al Noor mosque days before attack



Photo: Brenton Tarrant posted several violent and extremist memes to Facebook. (Supplied)

The Australian charged with murder over the Christchurch massacre posted a picture on his Facebook page of one of the mosques he allegedly targeted two days before the attack.

The discovery raises fresh questions about what security agencies and police could or should have known about the impending attack.

The ABC has recovered an image of the Noor mosque in Christchurch, uploaded at approximately 8:00am on March 13, from a partial cache of Brenton Tarrant's Facebook page.

The alleged Christchurch shooter's social media accounts were deleted shortly after the March 15 attack which killed 50 people.

The image, which the ABC has chosen not to show, appears amidst a stream of violent and extremist memes including images of Anders Breivik, a self-described "fascist" who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011, and Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

Tarrant included the image of the Noor mosque in Christchurch, where most of the victims died, in a crude collage.

The mosque is seen superimposed on the face of a person being held in a chokehold by a much larger and stronger person who has been given the face of a medieval knight.

Tarrant also posted two other versions of the collage showing the knight holding the Shiite Muslim religious icon Imam Ali and a woman in the Islamic headdress, the niqab.

A third collage adapts a popular meme showing the Canadian rapper, Drake, disapproving of one image and approving of another.

Tarrant's version of the image depicts the Noor mosque in Christchurch as objectionable, while he approves of an image of the Victoria Islamic Centre in Texas burning down after it was attacked in 2017 in what prosecutors called a hate crime.

'We were caught unaware'

Professor Hanif Quazi, one of the founding members of the Noor mosque, said it was "puzzling" that the alleged gunman's threatening posts did not trigger alarm bells.

"It's quite surprising that something like that has happened and nobody has seen it," Professor Quazi said.

"In a population of 4 million people, nobody saw such nasty things happening. It's a bit strange."

He said much of the community underestimated the threat posed by white supremacists.

"I think we were caught unaware — all of us, including police. We were more concerned for the behaviour of extremist Muslims. This is something that escaped."

In the weeks since the massacre, fragments of Tarrant's deleted social media accounts have been recovered, revealing his deep links to far-right groups online since as early as April 2016.

It has also been revealed he made a "disproportionately high donation" to an Austrian white nationalist group last year and frequented white supremacist chat boards on 8chan.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is considering the terms of reference for a Royal Commission which will focus on whether the gunman should have been on intelligence agencies' radar.

New Zealand police declined to say when the Facebook posts depicting the Noor mosque had been brought to their attention.

"The investigation team is making a large number of enquiries, both across New Zealand and internationally," a police spokeswoman said.

"While the investigation is ongoing we are not in a position to go into specifics around those enquiries."

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