The activities of an Australian supporter of white supremacy on the Internet, who opened fire on two New Zealand mosques – and what role social networks and Internet platforms played in its radicalization – will be part of the investigation into the deaths of 51 Muslim believers in 2019. Christchurch terrorist act.
But presiding coroner Bridget Windley, who announced the scope of her investigation in a decision released Thursday, warned of “monumental obstacles” to studying terrorist activity online – including Brenton Tarant’s attempts to erase parts of his digital footprint before committing attacks.
The March 15, 2019 attack was scheduled for an online audience; A gunman conducted a live broadcast and posted a manifesto online before shooting dozens of people in two mosques during Friday prayers.
Windley’s decision to include terrorist activities online in its investigation into what factors caused the deaths was welcomed by some Muslim groups who asked her at a preliminary hearing in February to explore the impact of social and digital media platforms.
“This is a significant moment for the reporting of digital platforms,” said Alia Danzeisen, national coordinator of the Council of Islamic Women. New Zealand. She added that the coroner “opened the door to investigate responsibility” of online platforms in radicalizing Taranto and others.
Many of the families of the victims have previously challenged the government’s decision to exclude private companies – including online platforms – from the royal commission in the attack. who published his report in December 2020.
Windley said she would focus on Taranto’s online activities between 2014 and 2017, during which he traveled extensively around the world, before moving to New Zealand from Australia and starting to seriously plan an attack. She said it was a window not covered by previous investigations.
Taranto is known to have spent some time on YouTube and on the 4chan and 8chan bulletin boards.
But Coroner said she would not carefully consider actions taken by online platforms to track their users for extremist content unless her investigation found evidence that Taranto’s online activities were a significant cause of his radicalization. Other factors, she said, included his “psychological composition” and “upbringing in provincial New South Wales.”
Windley ordered Taranto to reveal the location of the hard drive that disappeared from his apartment in Dunedin after the attacks, and whether information about him had been uploaded to the cloud storage. The armed verdict was convicted in August 2020 to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and charges of terrorism.
Tarrant’s conviction, which prevented a criminal trial, meant that evidence against him was never heard, and the royal commission was held completely behind closed doors. In a report of more than 800 pages, he concluded that while New Zealand’s anti-terrorism agencies focused on threats of Islamist terrorism with the exception of other ideologies, Taranto’s attack could not have been prevented “except by accident.”
Some families who have died in the massacre of New Zealand’s worst massacre in recent years have raised long-running questions about whether their relatives’ deaths could have been prevented, both before and immediately after attacks. For many, the lack of access to the materials that investigators had hoped for, some of which will now be provided to them as part of a carnival investigation, has sparked distrust of official findings in the case.
In her 99-page decision outlining the scope of the investigation, Windley acknowledged that to date the families of the dead and survivors are “information gaps”, but has not expanded her request to cover everything they asked her to investigate.
It will include:
The events of March 15, 2019 since the beginning of the attack.
Police, ambulance and nearby Christchurch Hospital responded.
Checking the police report that Taranto acted alone.
The last moments of the dead and whether it was possible to survive their injuries with other treatment.
Can the police who issue a Taranto license for weapons, despite the lack of appropriate references, which allows him to legally stockpile semi-automatic weapons, may be directly related to the attack, and if so, how have the procedures for licensing weapons changed.
How New Zealanders can detect and respond to people who are at risk of violent extremism in the future.
Windley said a public investigation into the emergency response to the attacks would be conducted. She has not yet determined whether any part of her investigation will be heard in public.
An investigation date has not yet been set. The date of the investigation is unknown.