New Zealand white supremacist terrorist charged with 49 more mosque murders

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Temel Atacocugu (C), a survivor of the March 15 twin mosque massacre, leaves the Christchurch District Court on April 5, 2019 after alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant, accused of shooting dead 50 Muslims during the March 15 attack on two mosques, appeared for his hearing via audio-visual link from a maximum-security prison in Auckland. (AFP / Sanka Vidanagama)
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Journalists gather outside the Christchurch District Court on April 5, 2019 as alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant, accused of shooting dead 50 Muslims during the March 15 attack on two mosques, appeared for his hearing via audio-visual link from a maximum-security prison in Auckland. (AFP / Sanka Vidanagama)
Updated 05 April 2019
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New Zealand white supremacist terrorist charged with 49 more mosque murders

  • Australian Brenton Tarrant shot dead 50 worshippers and wounded dozens more in two mosques on March 15
  • The white supremacist has been moved to New Zealand’s only maximum-security prison in Auckland

CHRISTCHURCH: Australian Brenton Tarrant appeared in a New Zealand court on Friday where the suspected white supremacist was charged with an additional 49 counts of murder at two mosques last month.
In an attack broadcast live on Facebook, a lone gunman armed with semi-automatic weapons targeted Muslims attending Friday prayers in Christchurch on March 15, killing 50 worshippers and wounding dozens of people.
Tarrant, who was charged with one murder a day after the shooting attack, was also charged with 39 attempted murders on Friday.
The High Court judge overseeing the appearance ordered Tarrant to undergo a mental assessment to determine whether he was fit to stand trial. He was not required to submit a plea.
Tarrant, 28, has been moved to New Zealand’s only maximum-security prison in Auckland and appeared at the Christchurch High Court through a video link.
Tarrant was then remanded to custody until June 14.
High Court Judge Cameron Mander said whether Tarrant would be required to enter a plea at his next appearance depended on his mental health assessment and “any other developments.”
Legal experts said two mental health experts would likely assess Tarrant, while police, who have not ruled out further charges, would continue to investigate New Zealand’s worst peacetime mass killing.
Prison officials say Tarrant is under 24-hour surveillance with no access to media, according to news reports.
He appeared via video handcuffed and seated, wearing a grey prison t-shirt. He listened calmly throughout the hearing, which lasted roughly 20 minutes.
Around two dozen family members of victims and some survivors of the attacks were present in the courtroom.
“The man had no emotion,” said Tofazzal Alam, a regular at one of the mosques, when asked about seeing the suspect on video.
Tarrant would be represented by two Auckland lawyers, one of them, Shane Tait, said in a statement on his website, which did not include any comments on the case.
Tait on Friday said he was arranging for his client to receive psychiatric assessment and that the process would take “some months,” according to court minutes.
“As I observed at this morning’s hearing, that is a usual and regular step for counsel to take at this point in the proceeding,” said Judge Mander.
Media had reported that Tarrant wished to represent himself and legal experts have said he may try to use the hearings as a platform to present his ideology and beliefs.
“If he has lawyers, he will be speaking a lot less in court,” said Graeme Edgeler, a Wellington-based barrister and legal commentator. “He can still give evidence...that’s possible, but if he’s represented by lawyers and it goes to trial he won’t be asking questions of people.”
Although journalists were able to attend and take notes, coverage of the hearing was restricted, with media only allowed to publish pixellated images of Tarrant that obscure his face. The judge also suppressed the names of people he was alleged to have attempted to murder.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern labelled the massacre an act of terrorism and quickly introduced tough new firearm laws which banned semi-automatic weapons.
Muslims worldwide have praised New Zealand’s response to the massacre, with many singling out Ardern’s gesture of wearing a headscarf to meet victims’ families and urging the country to unite with the call: “We are one.”
Thousands of visitors to the reopened Al Noor mosque, where 42 people were killed, have offered condolences and sought to learn more about Islam, said Israfil Hossain, who recites the daily call to prayer there.
“They are coming from far just to say sorry ... although they never did anything to us,” said Hossain, 26.
On Thursday, a group of Carmelite nuns stood for the first time inside a mosque, holding back tears as they talked with worshippers about the two faiths.
“Everybody has their own problems and they have their own ideas about religions, and that’s fine, and we should all have that, we’re all different,” said one nun, Sister Dorothea.
“But we’re all humans and that’s the most important thing, our humanity.”


Afghans react angrily to Trump’s boast that the US could ‘wipe Afghanistan off the face of the Earth’

Updated 24 July 2019
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Afghans react angrily to Trump’s boast that the US could ‘wipe Afghanistan off the face of the Earth’

  • Trump made his remarks at the White House ahead of a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan
  • “I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people,” Trump tells Pakistani PM

KABUL: The Afghan government demanded clarification from Washington on Tuesday after President Donald Trump said that the country “would be wiped off the face of the Earth” if he decided to win the conflict there.

Trump made his remarks at the White House ahead of a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday in which he sought to mend ties with Islamabad and seek its help to end the war in Afghanistan, the longest and most unpopular conflict in US history.

“I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people,” Trump said, referring to what he claimed were prepared military plans in Afghanistan.

“If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth, it would be gone, it would be over in literally 10 days.”

The US leader’s comments could be a blow for President Ashraf Ghani’s government, which signed a security pact with Washington in late 2014 allowing US-led troops to stay in Afghanistan and, in 2017, hailed the US after it dropped the world’s largest non-nuclear bomb in the east of the country.

Trump’s remarks come amid rising violence in Afghanistan, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of Taliban, government troops and civilians in recent months. Many Afghans are asking why the world’s leading superpower has failed to defeat the insurgents 18 years after the ouster of the Taliban regime.

"Trump’s comments highlight Washington’s failure to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan” 

Political analyst Wahidullah Ghazikhail

The Afghan government, which relies heavily on US troops and funding in the war against the Taliban, has sought official clarification over Trump’s comments.

“Our partnership and cooperation with the world, and in particular with the US, is based on mutual interest and respect,” a statement issued by the presidential palace said on Tuesday.  

“The Afghan nation has never allowed and will not permit any foreign power to choose its destiny,” it added.

Many Afghans, including former government officials, reacted angrily to Trump’s comments.

Rahmatullah Nabil, a presidential candidate who served as Afghanistan’s spy chief, said in a tweet that Trump’s comments should prompt Afghan leaders to set aside their differences.

“In reply to the insults of #Afg by @realDonalTrump, all Afg politicians, including Ashraf Ghani and Taliban leaders, should drop their selfishness and announce that we will make peace among ourselves & there is no need for mediation for US/Pak,” he said.

Modaser Islami, a leading Afghan religious scholar, said that Trump’s remarks showed “hostility toward Afghans” and questioned if Trump was “fighting the Taliban, as terrorists or as Afghans? His recent remarks show he is enemy of latter.”

Veteran journalist Bilal Sarwary described the comments as “offensive, stupid and arrogant,” while another senior journalist called the remarks an “insult to the entire Afghan nation.”

Political analyst Wahidullah Ghazikhail told Arab News that Trump’s comments “highlight Washington’s failure to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.” 

“Obviously, the US wants to strike a deal with the Taliban and Pakistan’s role is key in the peace process,” he said.