- Counterterror Experts Fear New Zealand Attack May Inspire Anti-Muslim Violence Elsewhere
Counterterror Experts Fear New Zealand Attack May Inspire Anti-Muslim Violence Elsewhere
In the wake of brutal mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand's eastern city of Christchurch, counterterrorism experts expressed their concern to Sputnik that the attack may trigger further violence against Muslims in other parts of the world
On Friday afternoon, a gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, situated in the Canterbury District. According to the latest data, the attack in Christchurch left 49 people dead and 39 more injured. New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said that one male person in his late 20s had been charged with murder and would appear in the court on Saturday, adding that three other people were detained for questioning following the massacre. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the shooting a terrorist act, adding that it was "one of New Zealand's darkest days."
Though his identity has not been confirmed officially, 28-year-old Australian-born Brenton Tarrant is widely believed to be behind the attack. Two days prior to the attack, the man tweeted photos of the rifles he later fired at unsuspecting worshipers in the center of the country's third-largest city. The guns were covered with white writings with Names of other perpetrators of religion-based murders, as well as references to historical figures events involving clashes between Christians and Muslims, in several languages.
Just hours before the attack, he published a link to a 74-page manifesto, where he explained the motives for shooting with his anti-Muslim and anti-migrant views, and expressed admiration for Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik. Terrifyingly, the attacker also livestreamed the attack on his Facebook page using a head camera, with clips of 17-minute harrowing footage shared multiple times through social media after the massacre.
Mass shooting in New Zealand is likely to trigger copycat attacks given that the anti-Muslim sentiment is gathering momentum amid military defeats of the Islamic State terrorist group (IS or ISIS, banned in Russia) and subsequent return of foreign fighters to Western states, David Otto, the Director of Counter Terrorism and Organized Crime for Global Risk International Ltd and the Preventing Radicalization and Violent Extremism Programme � Step In Step Out (SISO), told Sputnik.
"There is a huge underground hate ... Copycat attacks are likely to follow elsewhere in Europe and other regions in the world especially with the collapse of the Islamic State and the possibility that hundreds of returning Jihadist and their families will have the chance to return back to Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand," Otto said.
The expert agreed with Ardern's assessment, noting that mosque shootings had "all the footprints of a classic terrorist attack," which was meant to "instill terror to the Muslim community, affect policy but also kill and maim innocent civilians.
" His views were shared by Anthony Glees, the director of the Buckingham University's Center for Security and Intelligence Studies (BUCSIS).
"The rant he published online hours before the attack shows that his aim was political in intent. Not all mass shootings are politically inspired. This one was. It's the political intention that matters," the expert stressed in his comments to Sputnik.
The vile mass murder in one of the world's safest countries may trigger not only further violent actions by anti-Islam radical groups, but also lead to the wave of retaliatory Jihadist attacks, Otto stressed.
"There is a real danger that these far right extremist movements could rise leading to a rise in jihadist attacks as a counter-reaction ... Groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda [terrorist group, banned in Russia] will cite this attacks on innocent Muslims as a reason to continue Jihad - to save Muslims from 'Sinners.' There is trouble in the horizon," he said.
The counter-terrorism expert pointed out that the shooter's decision to broadcast live footage of harrowing murder might also inspire Islamic terrorist groups to change their modus operandi by copycating such use of social media platforms "to spread a vile message and fear."
"There is no doubt that ISIS core or affiliates may want to replicate the same tactics used by this far right extremist to send a dual message. One as a propaganda to the Muslim communities around the world that they are protecting the religion of islam and the Muslim population who are under attack; but also to radicalise others to launch and eye for eye attack against non-Muslims," Otto stressed.
Glees pointed out that social media would come under scrutiny after the dire first-person footage of mass shooting was not only livestreamed, but freely shared across various platforms.
"The live-streaming was a terrible mistake; again the social media providers must stand condemned for allowing this to be done," he said.
Dwelling on the ways to tackle a possible wave of far-right attacks and Muslim radicals' retaliation, the expert suggested the social media giants to take bigger efforts to track down potential extremists among other measures.
"Our only real protection against these killers is excellent intelligence-led policing, proper monitoring of what is posted on the social media by the social media companies, drawing up watchlists to alert authorities if they move from country to country," Glees said.
Otto, on the other hand, underlined the need for places of worship to liaise with local law enforcement and adopt better security measures.