THE terrorist who filmed himself slaughtering Muslims in a New Zealand mosque is understood to have become radicalised after travelling to North Korea and Pakistan.
Brenton Tarrant described himself as “a regular white man, from a regular family” – as his former gym manager confirmed his identity from the live stream footage.
Tracey Gray said Tarrant worked with kids as a personal trainer at Big River Gym in New South Wales between 2009 and 2011 before travelling extensively through Asia and Europe – which some believe is how he became radicalised.
He is said to have made some money from Bitconnect, a cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin, and used those funds to travel the world.
Tarrant set off for the seven-year trip around the world after his dad Rodney Tarrant died of cancer aged 49.
In his chillingly warped 74-page manifesto, Tarrant described how he had been preparing for the attack since his trip to Europe two years ago.
During his visit to France, he described a town in Eastern France as a “cursed place”.
He wrote: “In every French city, in every french town the invaders were there.
No matter where I travelled, no matter how small or rural the community I visited, the invaders were there.
“For every French man or woman there was double the number of invaders.
“I had seen enough, and in anger, drove out of the the town, refusing to stay any longer in the cursed place and headed on to the next town.”
Photos shared on social media show him smiling while visiting Pakistan in October 2018.
In another image from online he is seen with a tour group visiting the Samjiyon Grand Monument in North Korea.
Gray told ABC that he was passionate about working with kids, but believes he never had an interest in firearms before travelling.
She said: “I think something must have changed in him during the years he spent travelling overseas.”
Former friends have speculated Tarrant was “perhaps radicalised” while on his travels, the New Zealand Herald reports.
In one family photo, Tarrant is a toddler and smiles as his father holds up while posed with his mother and sister.
His family who still live in his hometown of Grafton are said to be in shock and were assisting the authorities with their investigations.
They are trying to come to terms with how a “polite, well-mannered young man” evolved into a killer, Sky News reports.
He wrote the disturbing manifesto after he was inspired by Anders Breivik – the far-right terrorist who killed 69 kids of a Workers’ Youth League on the island of Utøya in Norway in 2011.
Tarrant vowed to take revenge for the “thousands of European lives lost to terror attacks”.
In the sickening manifesto, titled The Great Replacement, he declared that he wishes he’d “killed more invaders and traitors”.
He also wrote: “I have read the writings of Dylan Roof and many others, but only really took true inspiration from Knight Justiciar Breivik.”
The use of “Knight” is a reference to the Knight’s Templar – a legion of Christian soldiers from the 12th century.
The author of the manifesto – which features a circular design mentioning “ethnic autonomy” – is understood to have filmed himself using a GoPro as he fired at worshippers in the Masjid Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch.
At least 49 were killed and 48 others injured after the attack at the Masjid Al Noor Mosque and the nearby Linwood Masjid at around 1.40pm on Friday.
Three men and one woman are now in custody.
It was originally reported one of the people arrested were wearing a suicide vest, but that theory has now been discounted by police.
The graphic footage of the attack and manifesto were published on the Facebook account of Brenton Tarrant. His profile has since been removed.
The names of the gunmen have not yet been confirmed by police.
When writing why he carried out the evil massacre, the shooter said: “To take revenge on the invaders for the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders in European lands throughout history.
“By the definition, then yes. It is a terrorist attack. But I believe it is a partisan action against an occupying force.”
He boasted that he chose to use firearms so he could influence politics in the US.
He wrote that he wanted to “create conflict between the two ideologies within the United States on the ownership of firearms in order to further the social, cultural, political and racial divide”.
And he ranted about his hopes that “this conflict over the 2nd amendment and the attempted removal of firearms rights will ultimately result in a civil war that will eventually balkanize the US along political, cultural and, most importantly, racial lines.”
The suspected shooter described himself as an “ordinary white man born in Australia to a working class, low income family.”
He wrote: “My parents are of Scottish, Irish and English stock. I had a regular childhood, without any great issues.”
He said he had “little interest in education” and “did not attend University as I had no great interest in anything offered in the Universities to study.
“I am just a regular white man, from a regular family. Who decided to take a stand to ensure a future for my people.”
In footage too distressing to show, the gunman executes people at point blank range – including one girl who lies on the floor screaming for help.
The man, who was dressed in military clothing, was even seen re-entering the mosque and shooting piles of groaning bodies.
Two gunmen attacked Masjid Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch and the Linwood Masjid at around 1.40pm on Friday.
The Bangladesh cricket team were among worshippers caught up in the carnage.
Mohammed Nazir told TVNZ he saw three women bleeding on the ground outside at Masjid Al Noor Mosque.
Another witness told the station: “My husband was driving past he said he took three people to the hospital, one was a little girl, all been shot.
“He wanted to take more he said there was like a dozen people just lying on the road.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.
Small children are said to be among the dead, and bodies have been reported laying on the ground outside.
A massive police response is under way with the city locked down.
Canterbury Police tweeted: “We have a critical incident in Christchurch. Please avoid the area. We will give more in the near future.”