CHRISTCHURCH • Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, who was charged with murder yesterday after filming himself on a shooting rampage at two mosques that left 49 dead, was a globe-trotter and avowed racist who immersed himself in an Internet subculture of extreme anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, white supremacist ideology.
Tarrant, 28, who had no criminal record and was not previously known to investigators who follow extremist groups, was captured and arrested on Friday in Christchurch moments after his heinous act.
The self-professed fascist wanted the world to see what he'd done: He apparently posted links on Facebook that connected to live video of the massacre from a camera mounted on his body.
The video showed unspeakable slaughter as the shooter moved through the house of worship, saying nothing, shooting as many people as he could.
His 74-page manifesto indicates that he moved to New Zealand to stage his attack, which he had been planning for two years.
His aim, he said, was to defend "our lands" from "invaders", to "reduce immigration rates" and to deepen division and start a civil war in the United States.
After his father died in 2010, Tarrant, a former fitness trainer, spent several years travelling around the world, to places where a white Australian was a distinct minority, and a white supremacist surrounded by people he considered lesser than him.
He visited Pakistan and North Korea, where he was photographed in a group tour of a national monument. In a Facebook message, Tarrant called Pakistan "an incredible place filled with the most earnest, kind-hearted and hospitable people in the world".
Yet Tarrant declared himself a "racist" and "ethno-nationalist eco-fascist" in his manifesto, a compendium of slogans, poems and diatribes against immigrants, Muslims, Jews and religious converts.
Tarrant described himself as "a regular white man, from a regular family", said he did not hate foreigners or Muslims who lived in their "homelands". But he said immigrants were "invaders... who colonise other peoples lands".
Tarrant, who according to London's Independent newspaper met right-wing extremists during a 2017 visit to Europe, declared allegiance to a group he called Europeans.
The weapons the shooter carried were covered with the names of men who murdered Jews and Muslims in Europe.
In his tweets - which Twitter deleted - and manifesto, Tarrant demonstrated a nonchalance about the carnage he was planning.
More than perhaps any other mass shooter in recent times, the author of this manifesto spells out the roots of his extremism in detail.
His world view seems cobbled together from scraps he found on the Web, and other details about his life indicate that he was deeply involved in online subcultures that attract extremists of various sorts.
News accounts in Australia said Tarrant told acquaintances that he funded his travels by making money from bitconnect, a cryptocurrency similar to bitcoin.
But Tarrant also mentioned in social media posts that he had been living off money he inherited after his father Rodney, who worked as a garbageman and was a competitive triathlete, died in 2010.
The alleged shooter, like many mass murderers in recent years, appears to have studied his predecessors, copying moves that promised either to heighten the death toll or the sensationalism of the slaughter.
Tarrant planned not only the two-site murder rampage but also the manifesto and a social media campaign, which included his newly created Twitter account, full of links to white supremacist and anti-immigration postings.
He created a musical soundtrack to his attack, curating martial music from Russia, Serbia and Britain.