Wellington, Twenty-eight-year-old Brenton Tarrant, the main suspect in the deadly terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch, opened fire on worshippers using rifles covered in white-supremacist graffiti after listening to a song glorifying a Bosnian Serb war criminal.
Two of the rifles used by the the right-wing extremist who filmed himself during the Friday bloodbath that claimed 49 lives mentioned Ebba Akerlund, an 11-year-old girl killed in April 2017 when an Uzbek man, Rakhmat Akilov, rammed his truck into people in Stockholm.
Akerlund’s death was memorialised in the gunman’s apparent manifesto, which was published online, as an event that drove him to wage war against what he perceived as “the enemies of Western civilisation”.
The name Charles Martel, hailed by white supremacists for defeating an invading Muslim force at the Battle of Tours in 732, was also displayed on weapons used in the carnage.
According to reports, the number 14 was also seen on the gunman’s rifles. The number may refer to 14 Words, which according to the Southern Poverty Law Centre, is a white supremacist slogan linked to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
The centre which monitors hate groups said that Tarrant also used the symbol of the Schwarze Sonne, or black sun, which “has become synonymous with myriad far-right groups”.
Four names of famous Serbs who fought against the 500-year rule of the Ottomans in the Balkans, written in the Cyrillic alphabet, were also seen on the gunman’s rifles.
The footage showed Tarrant driving to the first mosque while listening to a song idolising Radovan Karadzic, who was jailed for genocide and other war crimes against Bosnian Muslims.
The 74-page “manifesto” Tarrant posted online listed various neo-fascist aims, including the creation of an atmosphere of fear among Muslims. He espoused far-right and anti-immigrant ideology in the document.
He claimed that he had brief contact with the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, who gave his “blessing” to the attack.
In the document, called “the great replacement”, Tarrant described himself as a “regular white man from a regular family” who “decided to take a stand to ensure a future for my people”. He said he wanted his attack on the mosques to send a message that “nowhere in the world is safe”.
The document said the attack was planned for two years and that although New Zealand was not the original choice of location, Christchurch was scoped out three months in advance.