Christchurch mosque attack: Review finds shooter still a terrorist

Brenton Tarrant has had his terrorist designation renewed.
Brenton Tarrant has had his terrorist designation renewed. Photo credit: Newshub.

The Prime Minister and police have renewed their designation of Christchurch mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant as a terrorist.

Tarrant pleaded guilty to engaging in a terrorist act in March 2019, murdering 51 and attempting to murder 40 others. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole in August 2020.

Former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern designated Tarrant as a terrorist entity that same day, which was required to be reviewed by the Prime Minister within three years, and every three years after.

The designation of a terrorist entity "must be revoked" if the Prime Minister determines it's no longer justified.

Being designated as a terrorist freezes the person's assets in Aotearoa, and makes it a criminal offence "to participate in or support specific activities of that entity", the periodic review of Tarrant's terrorist entity designation, released on Wednesdaysaid.

"Designation is also designed to prevent the entity providing knowledge about, promoting, or encouraging terrorist acts."

The Terrorist Designation Working Group, on behalf of the Prime Minister, launched the review of Tarrant's terrorist designation in May last year, when Chris Hipkins was Prime Minister, but its content is largely withheld under the Official Information Act.

In its review, the TDWG said Tarrant has "continuously demonstrated behaviour and actions that show he remains clearly and consistently committed to his ideology".

It said his actions continue to influence the radicalisation of groups and individuals here and overseas.

As a designated terrorist, Tarrant is restricted from receiving material support, including money from others.

"This has therefore restricted his ability to actively promote his actions and inspire and teach others outside his imprisonment."

The TDWG also said it would affect social media companies' behaviour.

"Designation as a terrorist entity is likely to incentivise social media platforms to remove and block the content outside of the New Zealand jurisdiction."

If Tarrant was no longer designated a terrorist, then his acts and related content would "likely be more easily available in places where our objectionable classification does not hold jurisdiction," the TDWG said.

It also said the designation would help support international efforts to prevent and suppress terrorism around the world.

"New Zealand's close and likeminded security partners expressed strong support for continued designation of this entity and cited the influence that the individual continues to have in extremist circles."