Another terrorist attack on innocents at prayer

It is hard to come to terms with what transpired today in Christchurch, New Zealand. A self-styled white supremacist decided to act on his rage and hatred and open fire in two mosques in the South Island city, killing at least 49, including men, women and children. People that had come to pray on Friday. People that were just living their lives.

As usual in the wake of these incidents there are a million questions, headed by why? Why would a man do something like this? The unfortunate answer is that we may never really know why, although the fact that the gunman left a manifesto and survived his assault may give us some insight (more on the manifesto later in this blog and in a future one).

Why were New Zealand and Australian police not following this guy? How did he acquire such extraordinary firepower in two countries with tough gun laws? Why Christchurch? And there are many more such questions.

Even in the absence of more informnation it is clear that the NZ Prime Minister is correct and this was not just an act of mass murder but an act of terrorism. How can we say that at such a preliminary stage? Thanks to the aforementioned manifesto. The killer has given us a lot of insight into his mindset through his writing – as disjointed as it is. We seldom get this level of ‘evidence’ – this is why it was not immediately clear that a similar act in Quebec City in January 2017 was terrorism. Terrorism requires an ideological base and in this case it is laid out for us on a silver platter.

The manifesto will also help the NZ prosecution make its case against the shooter. At the same time, however, it is important not to allow him to use his court case as a soapbox to spread his hateful drivel and inspire others. I am certain he has already been lionised in the dark, poisonous corners of the Internet. We cannot allow him too further his twisted campaign.

As much as I have been working the terrorist ‘problem’ it is crucial that I never get ‘used’ to it. These attacks evoke the same level of disgust and sadness every time. People who did not deserve to die are now dead just because some idiot did not like the colour of their skin or the way they worshipped. It is wrong and we need to shout our own anger from the rooftops. We need to oppose the messages and material that feeds this garbage. It is not enough to excuse this as ‘free speech’. Speech is not ‘free’ if it sanctions the killing of others.

So stay angry. Don’t give the vicious criminals behind this the room to work. Take a stand and be active. Those who lost their lives deserve at least that.

Here is to the memory of the dead and in hopes of the fully recovery of the wounded and those that are in mourning.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

Leave a Reply