Brenton Tarrant, the notorious Australian white supremacist who carried out the 2019 Christchurch mosque terror attacks that killed 51 people in New Zealand, is expected to be sentenced to life in prison later this month—the first life sentence to ever be handed down in the nation’s modern history. Tarrant livestreamed his attack on Facebook before it spread to other sites on the Internet. Video of the attack was reuploaded millions of times across the entire Internet. On Facebook alone, it was reuploaded 1.5 million times.
Incredibly, in violation of rules set by New Zealand’s judicial system, Tarrant was reportedly permitted to send letters to supporters in late 2019 while incarcerated, copies of which also eventually appeared online and were shared across online platforms, including the anonymous chat forum 4chan. One six-page letter addressed to a Russian admirer named “Alan” warned of an upcoming “great conflict,” alluding to an expected race war.
To read CEP’s resource, Brenton Tarrant, please click here.
In March 2020, nearly one year after the massacre, Counter Extremism Project (CEP) researchers discovered that the livestream attack video, clips of the video, and content celebrating Tarrant’s actions remained easily locatable on file-hosting websites, the same aforementioned 4chan message boards, and video-streaming platforms. The Christchurch terror attack remains a case study of how sites and platforms continue to be misused by extremists, especially when tech companies fail to take the steps necessary to prevent the hosting, broadcasting, and reuploading of extremist content.
Prior to the attacks, Tarrant authored a manifesto entitled, “The Great Replacement,” referring to a white-nationalist theory positing that non-white immigration threatens the dominant white European culture with cultural genocide. He disseminated the manifesto to several media outlets and the Prime Minister’s Office before carrying out the two attacks. Tarrant wrote of his obsessions with so-called racial purity, claiming the attack would “show the invaders that our lands will never be their lands.” He also wrote that he began planning the attack “roughly two years in advance,” and chose the final location three months prior to the attack. Tarrant also posted multiple memes and other images of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh on social media prior to the Christchurch attack.
To read CEP’s New Zealand resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s resource, Timothy McVeigh, please click here.