New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says her office received a “manifesto” from the terrorist suspected of killing 50 people in two Christchurch mosques minutes before Friday’s attack.
Her remarks came as people flocked to memorial sites to mourn the victims of massacres at Al Noor and Linwood mosques and tales of heroism and tragedy emerged.
“I was one of more than 30 recipients of the manifesto that was mailed out nine minutes before the attack took place,” Ardern told reporters on Sunday.
“It did not include a location, it did not include specific details,” she said, adding that it was sent to security services within two minutes of receipt.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the terrorist was apprehended 36 minutes after police were alerted.
He said the body of the 50th victim had been discovered at the Al Noor mosque, where most victims were killed during noon prayers.
Friday’s attack, which Ardern labelled as terrorism, was the worst ever peacetime mass killing in New Zealand, following which the country has raised its security threat level to the highest.
A horrific video shot by the terrorist who carried out the mosque massacre was livestreamed on Facebook.
Ardern said she would be looking for answers from Facebook and other social media firms about how the attack was livestreamed on their platforms.
There are “further questions to be answered” by the tech giants, Ardern said, adding Facebook had “acknowledged what has occurred here in New Zealand.”
The American online social networking service company said it removed 1.5 million videos globally in the first 24 hours after the attacks.
In the hours after the violence, Prime Minister Ardern said extremist politics has been part of New Zealand’s community for a long time.
She touched on the history of extreme right-wing groups, including a mixture of skinhead, neo-Nazi and extreme nationalist gangs, some of whom believed in the supremacy of the “British race.”
On Saturday, The Guardian wrote thousands of Britons regularly use online forums that espouse right-wing extremism. The leading British daily’s report came amid fresh warnings that the UK is facing a “new wave” of anti-Muslim hatred.
In New Zealand, tensions rose amid growing frustration from victims’ families over delays in getting their remains for burial. Authorities said the complex investigation into the massacre made a quick process difficult.
Islamic custom dictates that the deceased should be buried within 24 hours, but New Zealand officials said all 50 bodies should be back with their families only by Wednesday.
“It’s a massacre, what else do they need to know?” Sheikh Amjad Ali, an assistant school principal, told AFP about frustrations with the wait.
A man whose wife was killed in the attack as she rushed back into the Al Noor mosque to rescue him said he harbors no hatred toward the terrorist, insisting forgiveness is the best path forward.
“I would say to him ‘I love him as a person’,” Farid Ahmad told AFP. “I could not accept what he did. What he did was a wrong thing.”
Her 44-year-old wife, Husna Ahmad, was the first of two targeted by the attacker. According to eye witnesses, when the shooting started, Husna helped several people escape from the women’s and children’s hall.
Australian Brenton Tarrant, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday. He was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5 where police said he was likely to face more charges.
Three others arrested in the case were not charged, with authorities claiming that they were not involved in the attack.
Witnesses have said his accomplices waited in a car outside the mosques but the mainstream media narrative has only focused on the main attacker.