Alleged NZ gunman visited North Korea before attack

Australian man Brenton Tarrant, the alleged gunman in the massacres at two mosques in Christchurch, has been remembered by residents of Grafton in regional NSW as a 'relatively normal' person.
The attacks, which took place during Friday prayers at the Masjid Al Noor mosque and Linwood Masjid left 49 dead and 48 injured about 1.40pm Friday local time. Forty-two people remain in hospital, including a five-year-old child.
9News has confirmed Tarrant, who grew up as a teenager in Grafton in regional NSW, was one of three men and one woman taken into custody after the attacks.
Police have said one person has been charged with murder, another had been cleared of any involvement, and detectives were still trying to establish if the other two were lined to the attack.
Live updates:
Christchurch shooting
In pictures:
World reacts to Christchurch attack with tributes and protests
His former employer, gym manager Tracey Gray, said he worked at Big River Squash and Fitness Centre for several years as a personal trainer.
'He was professional, he was punctual, reliable... as normal as one person to the next,' she said.
'He never showed any extremes or extremist views or any crazy behaviour.'
Ms Gray said Tarrant passionately worked in a program that offered free training to kids in the community.
'He always seemed to embody the philosophies of the fitness industry which is that we are inclusive and we accept all shapes of sizes and all fitness abilities and we are here to help and improve and help people,' she said.
Shortly after his father passed away from cancer at the age of 49 in 2010,
Tarrant left his job at the gym to travel.
He funded his adventures using money generated through Cryptocurrency Bitconnect.
'He had no specific destination,' Ms Gray said.
'It was my understanding he was open to see the world, to see as many places as possible. He just wanted to experience different experiences.'
Tarrant is known to have visited Europe, South-East Asia and east Asia, embarking on a road trip through Portugal, Spain and France.
Social media places him in Pakistan in October of last year and in North Korea, where he was photographed in a tour group visiting the Samjiyon Grand Monument.
The destinations he visited now form part of the counterterror investigation being conducted into his past and character.
'I can't believe that someone I had daily dealings with would be capable to something of this extreme,' Ms Gray said.
'I can only think that something has happened in those travels along the way.'
Shortly before the shooting, Grafton allegedly posted links to a manifesto titled ‘The Great Replacement' declaring his intentions.
In the document, which spans about 30 pages, the author said they had arrived in New Zealand to 'train' for an attack, 'but I soon found that New Zealand was a target as rich of an environment as anywhere in the west'.
The manifesto also referred to US President Donald Trump as 'a symbol of renewed white identity'.
The writer also identified himself as a 28-year-old man born in Australia and listed his white nationalist heroes.
An excerpt from the manifesto is below. None of the document has been verified.
'Just a ordinary white man, 28 years old. Born in Australia to a working class, low income family.
'My parents are of Scottish, Irish and English stock.
'I had a regular childhood, without any great issues.
'I had little interest in education during my schooling, barely achieving a passing grade.
'I did not attend university as I had no great interest in anything offered in the universities to study.
'I worked for a short time before making some money investing in Bitconnect, then used the money from the investment to travel.
'I am just a regular white man, from a regular family.
'Who decided to take a stand to ensure a future for my people.'
The alleged gunman also live-streamed the attack on social media. New Zealand Police have had a number of the videos removed and are urging people not to share them.
Police have said one person has been charged with murder, another had been cleared of any involvement, and detectives were still trying to establish if the other two were lined to the attack.

No comments found