File photo: Christchurch shooter Brenton Harrison Tarrant.(AP)
File photo: Christchurch shooter Brenton Harrison Tarrant.(AP)

‘Longest in 3 years’: Agencies to probe Christchurch shooter’s stay in India

Tarrant came to India on November 21, 2015, immediately after finishing his 23 day-trip in Nepal and stayed in the country for about three months.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Neeraj Chauhan | Edited by Sparshita Saxena
UPDATED ON DEC 08, 2020 08:29 PM IST

Indian intelligence officials said on Tuesday that they will look into 2019 Christchurch mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant’s three-month stay in India. The agencies will try to know the places he visited and people he met, officials said on condition of anonymity.

According to a comprehensive 792-page New Zealand Royal Commission of Inquiry report released on Tuesday, Australia-born attacker was in India between November 21, 2015, and February 18, 2016. HT has seen the report.

The report added that Tarrant travelled extensively, always alone, between April 15, 2014, and August 17, 2017, to various countries before moving to New Zealand. In all, the inquiry report lists 57 countries spread over Asia, most in Europe and Africa, where he travelled during these three years.

He came to India on November 21, 2015, immediately after finishing his 23 day-trip in Nepal.

In fact, his longest stay was in India during these three years. “The longest visit the individual (Tarrant) made to any one country was to India where he stayed between 21 November 2015, and 18 February 2016,” the report said. He visited several countries for about a month or more including – Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Myanmar, Russia, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia among others.

Also read: 800-page report on how New Zealand mosque shooter eluded detection

A senior Indian counter-terrorism official said they will enquire about the cities he visited, people he was in touch with or stayed with. “We will seek information from regional FRROs (Foreigners Regional Registration Offices) about his travel in India,” said this officer.

He added, “There is no formal enquiry or investigation in India as of now. We will look into his travel based on the Royal Commission of Inquiry report. If required later, we may seek further inputs from New Zealand authorities”.

The report says that “while extremist groups (including violent extremists) can be found in some of the countries the individual (Tarrant) visited, there is no evidence that he met with them”.

“Likewise, there is no evidence that he engaged in training or investigated potential targets,” the report stated.

Tarrant, 30, was sentenced to life prison without the possibility of parole in August this year after pleading guilty to 92 counts of terrorism, murder and attempted murder for killing 51 Muslim worshippers, including five Indians, at two mosques during Friday prayers in Christchurch on March 15, 2019.

The report says Tarrant lived off the money that he had received from his father and income from investments made with it. “With the money from his father, the individual travelled extensively. First, in 2013, he explored New Zealand and Australia and then between 2014 and 2017 he travelled extensively around the world,” it said.

The Royal Commission has concluded that when Tarrant moved to New Zealand in August 2017, it was with a fully-developed terrorist ideology based on his adoption of the Great Replacement theory and his associated beliefs that immigration, particularly by Muslim migrants, into Western countries is an existential threat to Western society and that the appropriate response (at least for him) was violence.

It, however, adds the purpose of the travel was not to meet up with extreme right-wing people or groups or engage in training activities or reconnaissance of possible targets. “Put simply, he travelled widely because he could and had nothing better to do,” it said.

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