Two Detained in New Zealand’s Christchurch over Threats of Attacking Mosques

New Zealand’s police have detained two men for posting online threats against two mosques in the city of Christchurch, where more than 50 people were killed in a terrorist attack in March 2019, The New Zealand Herald reported on Thursday.

A man has been charged with threatening to kill over messages posted online about attacking mosques ahead of the anniversary of the Christchurch terror attack. The 27-year-old man is due to appear in Christchurch District Court tomorrow.

Canterbury district commander superintendent John Price said police arrested two people today following threats made on internet site 4chan about Christchurch mosques. The other man was released this evening without charge.

“Any message of hate or people wanting to cause harm, they will be held to account … It’s very concerning for me and for New Zealanders as a whole. Most New Zealanders are peace-abiding. Any threat … is not the New Zealand way,” Price said as quoted by the media outlet.

Newshub reported that armed police raided two homes after an alleged threat involving a terror attack with car bombs on the second anniversary of the mosque shootings next week.

Det Insp Michael Ford told Stuff police had acted on information from the public regarding “concerning communications on the 4chan site”.

Police were notified through a member of the public coming forward a couple of days ago. Price said he understood the message had been removed from 4chan. He said the Muslim community was spoken to “pretty soon” after police were made aware of the threats.

“I just want to reinforce we take these matters extremely seriously and we are also working very closely with our Muslim community,” he said. “Any threat made on our community and our people is a threat on our society and will not be tolerated.”

On March 15, 2019, New Zealand was rocked by two mass shootings at Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch.

Fifty one people were murdered and a further 40 were injured in the worst terror attack in New Zealand’s history. The perpetrator of the deadly attack live-streamed the massacre on Facebook and the video later appeared on other online platforms.

In August 2020, the attacker was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his crimes, which were motivated by white supremacist ideology. Prior to the attack the gunman posted multiple references to his plan online, was able to legally obtain a gun licence, and carried out reconnaissance missions to both mosques.

A royal commission into the shootings found that New Zealand’s security agencies had been almost exclusively” focused on the threat from Islamist terrorism, and the police had failed to enforce proper checks on firearm licences. The royal commission said that despite the shortcomings, there were no failings within government agencies that would have alerted them to the imminent attack by the white supremacist.