New Zealand mosque shooting suspect reportedly visited Israel in 2016
Official quoted as saying there were no red flags in security check of Brenton Tarrant; Greek, Bulgaria, Turkey, Croatia, and Hungary also confirm trips
A right-wing extremist who went on a shooting rampage that left 50 mosque-goers dead in New Zealand on Friday reportedly visited Israel in 2016.
A senior Israeli immigration official said Brenton Tarrant arrived in the country from Turkey on October 25 using his Australian passport, Channel 13 reported.
Tarrant was granted a 90-day tourist visa, and left the country nine days later.
According to the official, there were no red flags during the suspected killer’s security checks.
Earlier on Sunday, police in Greece said Tarrant had visited the Greek islands of Crete and Santorini, and had traveled through the country twice, all in 2016.
Authorities in Bulgaria, Turkey, Croatia, and Hungary have also confirmed visits by Tarrant between 2016 and 2018, as he apparently studied battles between Christians and the Ottoman Empire.
In a statement, Greek police said Tarrant entered the country twice in 2016 on transit flights, on November 29 and December 10.
In March 2016, he entered the country on a flight from Istanbul and stayed for a few days in Heraklion, Crete and Santorini.
Authorities are investigating any phone calls or purchases Tarrant made in Greece. On Tarrant’s rifle was written the Greek word meaning “Turk-eater” or, metaphorically, “Turk-slayer.”
Tarrant, 28, appeared in court Saturday where he was charged with murder. A raft of further charges are expected.
Flanked by armed police he made an upside-down “okay” signal, a symbol used by white power groups across the globe. He did not request bail and was taken into custody until his next court appearance which is scheduled for April 5.
The attack on the Al Noor and Linwood mosques has been labeled terrorism by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and is thought to be the deadliest attack directed against Muslims in the West in modern times.
The attack has prompted an outpouring of grief and deep shock in the country, which prides itself on welcoming refugees fleeing violence or persecution.
The last comparable mass shooting in New Zealand was almost three decades ago, and the annual murder rate is usually around 50 people for the entire country.
Ardern said the shooter was “in possession of a gun license” obtained in November 2017, and he started legally purchasing the weapons the following month.
Two semi-automatic weapons, reportedly AR-15s, two shotguns and a lever-action gun were used in the attacks. Ardern said some of the guns had been modified to make them deadlier.
“I can tell you one thing right now — our gun laws will change,” she said.
The suspect documented his radicalization and two years of preparations in a lengthy, meandering and conspiracy filled far-right “manifesto.”
He live-streamed footage of himself going room-to-room, victim to victim, shooting the wounded from close range as they struggled to crawl away in the main Christchurch mosque.
Relatives are still waiting for authorities to release the bodies. Islamic law calls for bodies to be cleansed and buried as soon as possible after death, usually within 24 hours.
Supporters arrived from across the country to help with the burials in Christchurch and authorities sent in backhoes to dig graves at a site that was newly fenced off and blocked from view with white netting.