brenton tarrant art for digital story
brenton tarrant art for digital story

What led Brenton Tarrant to kill 51 Muslims in New Zealand?

Deranged killer Brenton Tarrant lost direction in life after his father Rodney died from cancer.

His death was a turning point for Tarrant, who began to reach out to Islamic communities in Pakistan, Austria and France.

Tarrant immersed himself in the ugliest parts of the internet, where he became radicalised.

His pathway to New Zealand's darkest day took him around the world, where he integrated with Muslims before sharing intel with white supremacist groups on the dark web.

 

Brenton Tarrant appears via video link in Christchurch, New Zealand on Thursday, one year after killing 51 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques. Picture: TVNZ Pool via AP
Brenton Tarrant appears via video link in Christchurch, New Zealand on Thursday, one year after killing 51 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques. Picture: TVNZ Pool via AP

As he dramatically changed his plea to guilty at Christchurch's High Court on Thursday - admitting to slaughtering 51 Muslim worshippers in New Zealand mosques a year ago - his schoolteacher mother Sharon was left "crushed" at the prospect of her son facing the rest of life in jail.

"She's not good at all, she feels for Brent, he's her son, she still loves him, you can't stop that," her partner Gerald Tory told The Daily Telegraph.

"She does not condone what he has done, she struggles to accept it, she's a smart woman but she worries he will spend the rest of his life in jail and the impact that will have on his mental state.

"She's actually crushed, she's a good woman and can't live a normal life, her world has changed completely."

In court yesterday the 29-year-old also admitted to the attempted murder of another 40 people during his March 15 rampage, exclaiming: "Ah, yes, OK, guilty."

 

A personal trainer from Grafton who entered the profession to please his sporty truck driver father, Tarrant embarked on a world tour for several years after his 2010 death telling family that he needed time to himself.

He boasted to anyone who would listen that he was "top of the class in marines", a "sniper" a "kebab seller" and in the "US armed forces."

Tarrant travelled more frequently in two years before the massacre including to North Korea, the Balkans, Austria and France to meet right wing extremist groups.

He boasted they were reconnaissance trips to mosques to work out which ones to target, according to a detailed manifesto he wrote spelling out the reasons for the Christchurch executions.

Israr Osho Thang, who runs the Osho Thang hotel in Pakistan where Tarrant stayed in October 2018, said: "He came to Pakistan travelling, he was really interested in the Koran and Islam and mosques, how we pray and our beliefs."

"He was a tourist, he seemed a fine man, his mental balance was not bad, he came across like a normal person, questioning life, religion, where he was heading in life.

"The whole time he was getting information, pretending he liked Muslims, he came to the mosque with me to pray … we were astonished to hear about the shootings in New Zealand."

 

The Masjid An-Nur mosque, scene of the worst mass shooting in New Zealand's history. Picture: Getty
The Masjid An-Nur mosque, scene of the worst mass shooting in New Zealand's history. Picture: Getty

 

In a Facebook post while travelling Minapin, Tarrant said: "Pakistan is an incredible place filled with the most earnest, kind-hearted and hospitable people, the beauty of the Hunza and Nagar Valley cannot be beat."

"Hopefully in the near future the Pakistani government and Mr Imran Khan will make necessary changes to the visa program to encourage tourism and make is viable to the world.".

His immersion into the dark web imbued his mind with white supremacist thoughts.

It turned an otherwise shy, yet friendly, young man born in Grafton, into an angry extremist intent on wiping out non "white" cultures.

His mother Sharon, an English teacher at Maclean High School, would admit to friends that growing up her son struggled to integrate with the other students at Grafton High while his more outgoing sister Lauren thrived, going on to become a drummer.

Former schoolmate and plumber Mitchell Firth said Tarrant was highly knowledgeable and a voracious reader on a range of topics.

"If there was a topic someone was talking about, he would know a lot more about it than anyone else. A lot of people would focus on one side of the topic while he would do his research all the way around it," he said.

A neighbour in Morrison Street, where he grew up, said he was "friendly enough but very quiet."

"He always said hello but he would never look you in the eye, he always walked with his head down," the neighbour said

 

Originally published as What led Brenton Tarrant to kill 51 Muslims in New Zealand?


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