Kuwaiti victim of New Zealand mosque shootings was ‘very brave’: friend

Ghassan Alaraji shows on his mobile phone a photo of his friend Atta Elayyan and his young daughter. Elayyan died during Friday’s terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. (AN photo by Steven Walton)
Updated 17 March 2019

Kuwaiti victim of New Zealand mosque shootings was ‘very brave’: friend

  • ‘He was trying to help and protect the others from being shot, but unfortunately he wasn’t so lucky’

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: ‘He wasn’t so lucky’ – friends recount death of sportsman in Christchurch mosque shootings.
A dedicated futsal player and loving father was one of the victims in Friday’s mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Friends of Kuwait-born Atta Elayyan, 33, have travelled to Christchurch to pay tribute to his life.
Iraqi man Ghassan Alaraji, 35, who works as an osteopath in Auckland, said he witnessed Elayyan’s death in one of the videos posted online by the suspected gunman, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28.
“It showed a young chap running towards the perpetrator trying to tackle him to stop him from shooting,” Alaraji said.
“Just before that happened, the perpetrator shot him. That was my friend Atta.”
He described watching the video as “very saddening”.
Alaraji, who’s travelled from Auckland to show his support to the grieving families, said Elayyan was a kind man, successful businessman, loving father, and a good husband. He was a member of the Futsal Whites, New Zealand’s national futsal team.
“He was trying to help and protect the others from being shot, but unfortunately he wasn’t so lucky,” Alaraji said.
“He was very, very brave.”

Atta Elayyan was born in Kuwait and a member of the tech community in Christchurch. He co-founded and ran the mobile consultancy company, LWA Solutions. He moved to New Zealand in the mid-1990s and loved his time here, Alaraji said.
He said there had been lots of support from the local Christchurch community and the council has done an amazing job to begin digging graves for those who lost their lives.
“We wish all the best for his family and we’ll try our best to give all our support for them,” he said.
“He will be dearly missed,” Alaraji said as he held a photo showing Elayyan with his young daughter.

Another friend of Atta Elayyan, who did not want to be named, said he received official confirmation of his friend’s death late on Saturday night.
“Yesterday in the morning when they confirmed that he wasn’t on the list of people who were in the hospital… that was kind of the first acceptance,” the friend said.
“That was hard. That was a shock,” the friend, who had also travelled from Auckland to pay respects.
In a statement, New Zealand Football said it was deeply sad to receive the news of Elayyan’s death.
Elayyan played 19 international games for the New Zealand Futsal Whites.
Chief Executive Andrew Pragnell said the death was devastating for those in the football community.
“On behalf of everyone at New Zealand Football our thoughts and prayers go out to anyone who has been affected by these heinous acts of violence,” Pragnell said.


More on the New Zealand attack:

Christchurch massacre proves terror has no color, faith or gender

New Zealand mayor on deadly mosque attacks: ‘This hatred was not born here’

The day peaceful, welcoming New Zealand lost its soul

When gunman Brenton Tarrant attacked New Zealand mosque Abdul Aziz ran at him

Saudi man killed in New Zealand mosque attack

World reacts to New Zealand terrorist attacks on mosque

New Zealand mosque shooter a white nationalist seeking revenge

Trump briefed on missile strike in Saudi Arabia: White House

Updated 47 min 43 sec ago

Trump briefed on missile strike in Saudi Arabia: White House

  • White House official said they are closely monitoring the situation
  • Houthi militants said they attacked a power station in Saudi Jizan province

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has been briefed about a missile strike on Saudi Arabia, the White House said Thursday, after Houthi militia claimed an attack on a power station in the kingdom’s south.
“The president has been briefed on the reports of a missile strike in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and continuing to consult with our partners and allies.”
There was no immediate confirmation of the attack from Saudi authorities.
Late Wednesday, Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi militants said they struck a power station in southern Jizan province, according to the group’s Al-Masirah TV.
Earlier on Wednesday, a Saudi-led military coalition fighting the militia said a Houthi drone was intercepted over Yemeni airspace.
Last week, a Houthi missile attack on the international airport in southern Abha city left 26 civilians wounded, drawing promises of “stern action” from the coalition.
Human Rights Watch denounced last week’s strike as an apparent “war crime,” urging the Houthis to immediately stop all attacks on civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.
The attacks come amid heightened regional tensions with Iran, which Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused of arming the militia with sophisticated weapons. Tehran denies the charge.
Following recent Houthi attacks, Saudi state media has reported the coalition was intensifying its air raids on the militia’s positions in the northern Yemeni province of Hajjah and the Houthi-held capital Sanaa.
The coalition intervened in support of the Yemeni government in 2015 when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile as the militants closed in on his last remaining territory in and around second city Aden.
The conflict has triggered what the UN describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 24 million Yemenis — more than two-thirds of the population — in need of aid.