Brenton Tarrant on September 13, 2016 at Istanbul's Ataturk International airport in Turkey.
Brenton Tarrant on September 13, 2016 at Istanbul's Ataturk International airport in Turkey.

The big mistake which saved dozens from NZ massacre

MINUTES after shooting dead 42 people at Christchurch's Al Noor mosque, Australian gunman Brenton Tarrant turned his attention to inflicting the same horror at nearby Linwood mosque.

But those who survived the second shooting say he made a critical tactical error that spared dozens of lives.

As Tarrant approached the mosque dressed in a big jacket and gloves and carrying a large weapon, he inadvertently bypassed the main entrance and was seen by worshippers.

Instead, he went to the back of the building, opposite the front entrance, and shot at a window before entering.

Mohammed Akheel Uddin, who had just been checking vehicle parking outside, saw Tarrant as he approached the back of the building while 100 Muslims prayed inside.

Friends and family of the victims wait near Christchurch Hospital for news. Picture: Getty
Friends and family of the victims wait near Christchurch Hospital for news. Picture: Getty

"I said 'Getting down. Something is happening outside. People get on the floor'," he told stuff.co.nz.

"I called the people to get inside the ladies section. It's a safe place, you can lock it from inside. Then I saw him. He was six to eight feet in front of me.

"By the time he was in the right place we hide ourselves. It was panic. It was a very terrible situation … if he was coming straight away to the main door, everybody would be maybe no more here."

The survivor of New Zealand's worst ever terror attack said he called police to warn them the shooter may attack the Al Noor mosque not knowing Tarrant had been there first.

 

SURVIVOR'S EXTRAORDINARY ADMISSION

A survivor of the New Zealand mosque massacre whose wife was one of 50 victims killed in the shooting says that while he doesn't support the accused gunman's actions he "love(s) that person because he is a human".

Farid Ahmed, a senior member of Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, was paralysed after a drunk driver struck him six years ago. When accused shooter Brenton Tarrant on Friday allegedly opened fire on worshippers inside the venue, Mr Ahmed's wife Husna, rushed to her wheelchair-bound husband's aid. As she made her way towards him, she was shot from behind, and killed.

"I was asked 'how do you feel about the person who killed your wife?' and I said 'I love that person because he is a human, a brother of mine," Mr Ahmed told the New Zealand Herald.

"I do not support what he did - he got it wrong.

"But maybe he was hurt, maybe something happened to him in his life … but the bottom line is, he is a brother of mine.

"I have forgiven him and I am sure if my wife was alive she would have done the same thing.

"I hold no grudge."

Fifty people were killed in the attack last Friday, and dozens more were injured when Tarrant allegedly filmed himself shooting people at two city mosques.

But legal experts in New Zealand fear the accused killer could use his trial to showcase his evil manifesto.

A former senior Crown prosecutor, Ross Burns, said if Tarrant faced a trial on terrorism charges it could lead to a long, drawn-out affair - which he could use "to espouse his ideological reasons".

Mr Burns told NZ website Stuff prosecutors instead could favour a straight murder trial where only two things had to proven, whether the accused did it and if it was his intention to kill.

Charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act must prove it was done for ideological or political reasons, and was intended to terrorise the community.

Fifty pairs of white shoes have been laid in front of All Souls Anglican Church in honour of victims who lost their lives in Christchurch. The attack is the worst mass shooting in New Zealand's history. Picture: Getty Images
Fifty pairs of white shoes have been laid in front of All Souls Anglican Church in honour of victims who lost their lives in Christchurch. The attack is the worst mass shooting in New Zealand's history. Picture: Getty Images

"In my view, the elements are all made out, but to minimise the impact on victims, straight murder is easier to prove.

"And there's less scope to use a platform to espouse his ideological reasons."

The 17-minute livestreamed video - which has caused revulsion around the world - and the hate-filled document he placed online before the shootings would be key parts of any criminal trial.

Tarrant has reportedly indicated he would represent himself. The legal representatives who acted for him on Saturday was a duty lawyer, so reports he fired them were not accurate.

Reports from New Zealand suggest Tarrant has been warned he is a marked man by gang members.

PRISONER 'WARNED'

The New Zealand Herald reported one gang member said: "We've got friends inside too".

The paper said the gang member didn't elaborate but the "meaning was clear".

"Threats should be taken very seriously," said Canterbury University criminologist Greg Newbold, who has spent time in prison himself earlier in his life.

"I would take that very seriously and I would say he would be in extreme danger.

Zulfirman Syah was shot several times.
Zulfirman Syah was shot several times.

"There will be people in prison who will be pretty angry about it, particularly the fact that he's a white supremacist," he told the Herald.

Mr Newbold said it was possible he could spend the rest of his life in segregation, and at least the next five to 10 years in "effective" solitary confinement - for his own safety.

"He could easily be killed."

Tarrant has so far been charged with a single count of murder and has been remanded to a maximum-security prison where he is being watched 24/7 ahead of his return to court early next month.

Tarrant is an Australian citizen from Grafton, in New South Wales. Police and intelligence services on both sides of the Tasman have been probing his movements in recent years as he made his way out of both countries and into Europe.

Tarrant said in his online document New Zealand was not the original intended target, but he changed his mind after moving to Dunedin, in the South Island, to train and prepare. Once there, he allegedly selected it for the attack because of its image as one of the safest countries in the world.



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