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CNN International: New Zealand Mosque Attacks Suspect Appears in Court; Muslim Community Reacts to New Zealand Massacre; More Than 15 Nationalities in Targeted Mosques; Manifesto Mailed to New Zealand Prime Minister Minutes before Attack; "Extreme Havoc" as Cyclone Moves Inland from Mozambique. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired March 16, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kristie Lu Stout, live in Christchurch with our ongoing coverage of the New Zealand terror attacks. The community here remains shattered by the terror attack that took the lives of 49 people, 20 people injured quite seriously and still in the hospital with gunshot wounds. We're waiting to hear updates on their condition.
And even though a terror attack is designed to instill fear, to incite more hatred and violence, the community here has responded with displays like what you see behind me, these floral tributes all across the city at places of worship, at mosques and churches like the one behind me, with messages of unity and love and compassion.
Now as we follow the tributes, we're also following the investigation very closely. And we have new updates on that front to share with you.
Investigators have been poring over the accused gunman's travels and his hate-filled manifesto that he published online as well; 28-year- old Australian national Brenton Tarrant charged with murder in his first court appearance on Saturday. He emailed his anti-Muslim rantings to the prime minister's office minutes just before the mosque massacres.
Joining me now is a resident of Christchurch who I spoke to in the last hour, Deepak Sharma.
Deepak, thank you for joining us once again.
DEEPAK SHARMA, CHRISTCHURCH RESIDENT: It is a pleasure.
STOUT: We talk about the suspect's online manifesto, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant messages. You are a proud Kiwi and a proud immigrant.
When you hear about what was in that message and that manifesto and called people like you, immigrants, "invaders," how do you react to that? SHARMA: It hurts down in the heart. We're definitely not invaders. We haven't done anything wrong here. We're just here to -- to make a living out here and call this place our home. I guess if it is just one person's ideology, we can't blame the whole community for it.
And then I think what we can do to address these kind of issues -- I guess all of the good things in the world have already been said, we just need to act on them. And I guess -- well, I met a few people yesterday that were all fellow Kiwi citizens and a lot of immigrants as well.
And we were thinking what can do. I guess the only thing we can do at this stage is to stand up against discrimination against anyone anywhere in the world. So when you see anyone discriminating someone, just take a stand and tell the person it is not acceptable. It needs to stop here.
SHARMA: And that's the same message you should pass to the younger generation as well.
STOUT: Deepak, you are a proud immigrant and you moved here to New Zealand from Punjab in India about 10 years. But you are a proud New Zealand national.
STOUT: And I could see, in the last hour, when you were standing here and sitting almost meditatively next to this flow of tributes, that it moved you, it stirred you very, very deeply.
SHARMA: It did. Especially, when I was here yesterday, to see the community coming all together in one voice and saying it is not acceptable. I guess that is the one message I was waiting to hear but definitely not the right time to listen to this message. I hope it is the first and last time we can see this kind of atrocity here.
I guess the most dangerous thing in the world is to not address the atrocities done by the bad people, it is the silence of the good people. So everyone needs to stand up and say, it is enough.
STOUT: And here you don't see the silence. People are standing up and speaking out and talking to the media. They are showing their messages of love and compassion and trying to drown out the sounds of this hateful message and act.
How proud do you feel to be a New Zealander today?
SHARMA: Well, I couldn't find a better place to be at this moment. This is the best place I can ever imagine to be. Even after what we witnessed on Friday, Saturday, it was a whole different story. All we were talking about, the silence. This is definitely not a silence. All of the messages, especially on the cars; someone actually drew a message or they used a 5-year-old kid, that is not silence. That is louder than what that idiot was trying to say. STOUT: And speaking out loud, this is a message for the world.
What is the message from New Zealand to the world on the back of terror attacks in Christchurch?
SHARMA: I guess the only thing that we can pass that this needs to stop right here.
SHARMA: We cannot tolerate this kind of atrocities anywhere in the world. We are a small, peaceful nation. And we need to spread this message of peace throughout the world, especially those people who are not fortunate enough in their countries, because they are going through war and trouble every day.
We're quite safe over here but, at the same time, we just need to make sure those people are safe too.
STOUT: Absolutely. Deepak Sharma, thank you so much for joining me and take care.
SHARMA: Thank you.
STOUT: Deepak was saying these are messages that represent the positivity coming from the people here in New Zealand, reacting to the terror attacks, messages of compassion, of peace, of love, compassion for the victims. Earlier today -- or I should say yesterday -- my colleague Alexandra Field has been talking to survivors, those who were in the mosque, at the places of worship during Friday prayers, when a terrorist came in and slaughtered 49 people. This is their story of survival. Take a listen.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the massacre at Linwood Mosque in Christchurch, where seven Muslims were killed, Ahmad Khan narrowly saved his own life.
AHMAD KHAN, EYEWITNESS: The guy shot at me but I dodged down so he missed me. And then I ran back to the mosque and told everyone to go to the ground because there's someone with a gun who's going to shoot everyone. And then everyone went to the ground and then he started shooting through the windows.
FIELD (voice-over): Inside Khan, found a friend bleeding.
KHAN: And I knew he was shot in the right arm. I went in there and held him and told him -- he was asking for some water. I said, calm down. The police are here now. And then the gunman came through the window again and shot him, when I was holding him, in the head. And he was dead.
FIELD (voice-over): Khan came to New Zealand 12 years ago, seeking safety, a refugee from Kabul, Afghanistan. His Afghan uncle, among those killed in the gunfire on New Zealand's darkest day at a second mosque just minutes away.
Khaled al-Shdokthi was inside Al Noor mosque when the bullets began flying there.
KHALED AL-SHDOKTHI, WITNESS: Some of my friends died, some of them this morning and one of my friends is still in the hospital because he was shot in his leg.
FIELD (voice-over): Al-Shdokthi, a PhD Candidate from Saudi Arabia, said he recently told his Saudi friends he thought New Zealand was the safest place on Earth. To him, it was.
AL-SHDOKTHI: I saw the bullets on the wall. The man came inside. And we couldn't do anything, just I looked, there I was, just sitting next to the window. I smashed the window and I escaped from the window and many people ran after me. And we went to the back yard.
FIELD (voice-over): Sue Harrison heard the shots ring out across the yard.
SUE HARRISON, WITNESS: I got in the stairwell and started hunkering down with panic feeling in our hearts, just describing the sound.
FIELD (voice-over): Finally, there was silence.
HARRISON: After the gunshots had stopped for a few minutes, we peeked out the window and we could see people in the back yard of the mosque, sort of milling around. And they were up front. They went. They weren't panicking. They were just sort of walking around. There was wailing going on.
FIELD (voice-over): Harrison hasn't been allowed back to the apartment. The area around the mosque is still a crime scene. It's where 41 people who couldn't get out died inside.
And the victims, they were not just eyewitnesses to terror or survivors, they were also immigrants and asylum seekers that came here looking for a better life.
FIELD: That is one of the first things the prime minister said in the immediate aftermath of this attack. Given that the Muslim population in this country is so small, she said these are going to be migrants and refugees who wanted to make this country their home and they had made this country their home.
The heartache is being felt across the nation. Certainly there are so many people standing in solidarity with this small community. It is not just the Muslim community that's been terrorized. We spoke to people in the neighborhood as well.
The one woman you heard from, at the end of the piece, Sue Harrison, she's from the community and lived here and she was moving into this apartment near the mosque. She felt that it was a beautiful building to look at. She loved the sound of the prayers coming from that building.
And she hasn't been able to go back there yet and she's not sure that she really can go live there now after what she has seen and what she has lived through, as far as that she'll carry.
STOUT: And even though the Muslim population in New Zealand is small, everyone in New Zealand was affected by this. You could see it in the messages and the tributes behind us and all over the city. This was deeply felt by virtually everyone in the country.
FIELD: This is an attack on their soil and carried out by somebody who is not from New Zealand, somebody who has been in and out of the country, not somebody --
FIELD: -- who is from this community. We're talking about this 28- year-old Australian man. We know he had spent some time in the area. But really it has confounded people, why here and why at this moment. And what we've heard over and over again is just that this is somebody who came to a peaceful place to spread hate.
STOUT: And whenever a mass shooting takes place in our home country, in the United States, there is always a quick response of thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers, perhaps a debate about gun reform, gun law changes and then back to square one.
Different here, absolutely different.
FIELD: Absolutely. We hear that all the time in the United States. We see these mass shootings that happen far too often for anyone to be able to really comprehend or believe. Every time you hear people coming out and saying, it is time to deal with the gun problem in America and you'll hear others who say, this isn't the time. We have to be respectful of the victims of this attack here.
You saw a very different message and it emerged almost immediately, with the prime minister saying the gun laws in this country will change.
STOUT: Alexandra Field, thank you for your reporting. Take care.
Now guns in this country, an issue being addressed. Another issue that needs to be addressed on the back of Friday's terror attack is online extremism and that online manifesto that was circulating before the attack itself was livestreamed by the suspect.
And not only that, we've learned that the manifesto was emailed to the prime minister's office just minutes before the attack took place. Drew Griffin filed this report looking into the contents and the hate inside this manifesto.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: It's titled "The Great Replacement;" 87 pages, more than 16,000 words, not rambling but a spell-checked reference dissertation on a hate-filled view of immigrants, immigration and Muslims, unsigned. It is the killer's explanation for why he did this.
ARDERN: These are people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact have no place in the world.
GRIFFIN: There is no doubt that the 28-year old under arrest is a white supremacist who believes his own white European race is being wiped out by immigration, labeling it white genocide. It is also the universal rallying cry of hate-filled white supremacists across the world. In Charlottesville, Virginia, the neo-Nazi cry was --
UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Jews will not replace us.
GRIFFIN: In Warsaw, Poland, in 2017, some marchers in an Independence Day demonstration carried banners that read "White Europe" and "Clean Blood."
In 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, a white teenager named Dylann Roof murdered nine African Americans in a church.
The white supremacist reportedly said, "You all are raping our white women. You all are taking over the world," as he gunned down unarmed parishioners.
The rhetoric is old but new technology has allowed these messages of hate to be spread in real time across the globe. The New Zealand killer streamed parts of his attack live on Facebook. The video spread to YouTube, Twitter, news sites before police pleaded for it to stop.
MIKE BUSH, COMMISSIONER, NEW ZEALAND POLICE: I have seen social media footage. It's very disturbing. It shouldn't be in the public domain and we're doing everything we can to remove it.
GRIFFIN: But hours after the attack, copies of the gruesome video still continued to appear shared by social media users. While police will not discuss a motive, the suspect refers to Dylann Roof and writes he was inspired by white supremacist Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway eight years ago.
He does try to explain his own breaking point came in 2017, the French presidential election of what he describes as an anti-white ex-banker and the terror related death of an 11-year-old Swedish girl, run down by a Muslim terrorist in a stolen truck in Stockholm, a crime, he writes, he could no longer ignore.
And in 87 pages, the suspect does make one reference to Donald Trump.
He writes, "Are you a supporter," asking himself, "as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose?"
He answers, "Sure. As a policymaker, dear God, no." -- Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.
STOUT: Now the suspect's anti-Muslim rants have raised new questions about hate speech and how it is being spread on social media. Now our next guest is Wajahat Ali, he's a contributing op-ed writer for "The New York Times" and he joins us now.
Wajahat, thank you so much for joining us here on CNN. You have called these white supremacists "white ISIS." They don't want a caliphate.
So what do they want?
WAHAJAT ALI, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": They want Valhalla. They want a romantic idea --
ALI: -- of a white utopia where the white man -- and in particular, the white man, not white woman -- is on top. They want to be superior and they have this image of a romantic past that never existed and that is being tarnished and tainted by the immigrants, the blacks, the Muslims.
And the cabal, the head of this conspiracy theory that is trying to weaken the white man in European civilization to subordinate them, is the Jews. That is the replacement theory that in the last segment you talked about. The New Zealand shooter, he left behind that manifesto. That is called also the white genocide, it is one of the great fears of the white supremacy movement.
And he explains the motivations. And I just saw the shooter who killed 49 people in New Zealand, also Anders Breivik who wanted to punish Europe for being pro-immigrant and for diversity in 2011 and also for the shooter in October, right here in America, who walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue and killed 11 worshipers and said that he wanted to punish the invaders and get them before they got us.
STOUT: Let's talk more about the manifesto and the thinking behind it. It is a multi-hundred-page document full of hate and makes references to Anders Breivik.
Was this the work of the suspect alone or did he have his own white ISIS network behind him?
ALI: So you ask a good question here because oftentimes when the suspect of a domestic terror case is white, we always say lone radical, lone wolf, a single crazy person.
That is what Scott Brown, the ambassador to New Zealand, said and Donald Trump said, oh, it's just a few people, these white nationalists.
No. The number one domestic terror threat in America is white supremacists and they emerge from a ideological infrastructure that thrives online. It recruits, radicalizes and weaponizes online and it's deeply connected to now a mainstream network of elected officials and also social media and media personalities.
I'll give you an example. This man cited the Quebec shooter, who, two years ago, walked into a mosque and killed six Muslims. It is very similar to Anders Breivik, who left behind a 1,500-page manifesto, Kristie, where he cites the writings of American anti-Muslim bigots -- American anti-Muslim bigots.
And Donald Trump, just a few months ago, midterm elections, promotes the major white supremacy conspiracy theory about Jews bringing in invaders.
How did he do that?
He said that George Soros, a Jewish billionaire, is funding quote- unquote "the caravan of rapists, criminals, immigrants, Middle Eastern suspects" to invade America. "Invasion" was used by the shooter and yesterday Donald Trump, trying to be presidential, failed by using the word "invasion" again. It is all connected and it is global. It is going mainstream. We have to label it as domestic terrorism. We have to confront it.
This goes against all of our communities, Muslims, Sikh, African Americans in Charleston, Jewish Americans. And Anders Breivik, by the way, killed a lot of European teenagers. All of us are affected by this.
STOUT: All of us are affected. Something has to be done. The concept of white genocide maybe once was a fringe ideology. But as you pointed out, it has gone mainstream. In politics and also in technology platforms, when it is being livestreamed on Facebook.
So what can governments do, especially the government here in New Zealand, to confront this threat?
ALI: Well, thoughts and prayers, we're thankful for you guys listening to the thoughts and prayers and then pass gun control. And that could happen in New Zealand because, as a parliamentary system, so we need gun control, number one, to stop not only terrorists from getting weapons but also to stop mass shooting.
But this is a top-down problem. You need effective leadership. And you saw the prime minister of New Zealand being an effective leader with words and actions. First and foremost, we need Donald Trump to actually acknowledge this as domestic terrorism, not call it "very fine people," the KKK and the white supremacist in Charlottesville who said the "Jews will replace us."
No. Stop being impotent when it comes to white supremacists and be tough on them like you are tough on ISIS, number one.
Number two, we have laws on the book to prosecute domestic terrorism. Prosecute domestic terrorism when it's done by white suspects just like when it's done by ISIS.
Number three, media is also to blame, we're to blame because a study came out last year that said that when a suspect is Muslim in an act of terrorism, seven times as much media coverage, Kristie, than when it's a white suspect.
So we need education and we need coverage and we need to call it out and we need to inform and educate top-down government law enforcement and in schools.
And the final piece I'll say, which is very important, on the grassroots, there are former white supremacists trying to deradicalize individuals. We need to empower them. President Obama gave some of these groups money. Trump came in and defunded them.
So it is a holistic, societal approach and right now we're two steps behind and they're two steps ahead, on the ground and especially on social media.
STOUT: Wajahat, you've given us a lot of food for thought.
STOUT: Thank you so much for joining us here on the program.
The events that took place here in Christchurch on Friday are tragic, triggering this outpouring of sympathy, as you could see behind me, but also we've seen an effective government response in New Zealand, which as Wajahat Ali pointed out, is something people would like to see happen in other areas of the world; in particular, the United States.
We will continue with our ongoing coverage of the aftermath of the terrorist attacks here in New Zealand. You're watching CNN. We'll be back with the headlines as well after this.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone. I'm Zain Asher in New York. We're going to take you back to the coverage of the New Zealand shootings in a moment but first other news happening around the world.
Nearly 200 people have been detained for questioning after the so- called Yellow Vest protests in Paris turned rather violent. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters, who shattered store windows and set a newspaper stand on fire.
In the crash of --
CATHERINE NORRIS-TRENT, FRANCE 24 CORRESPONDENT: What we've got now is that security forces, lines and lines of riot police are driving a knot of protesters, a group of several hundred protesters back down the avenue. They have got them circled and they're trying to disperse them. And as you can see and hear, they're firing round upon round of tear
gas canisters in the streets, just where we're standing, trying to break up this group of protesters, which the French prime minister has said are ultra violent people who come to wreak havoc and attack Paris.
Police said this would not be tolerated and called for all the perpetrators to be arrested and taken to court and punished. The latest figures we have, 109 people are being questioned by police and we can expect that figure to rise because right now there is a very tense standoff going on here on the Champs-Elysees.
You can hear, again, rounds of tear gas being fired. There are several dozen police vans here on a famous avenue, which, once again, has been hit by violent clashes, the most violent we've seen in several weeks, since the start of the Yellow Vest protests. It seems that that has provoked clashes once again in central Paris.
ASHER: In the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, the process of accessing data from the flight and cockpit recorders has begun at a facility near Paris. Officials say DNA testing to identify the victims may take up to six months.
Passengers on the flight came from more than 30 countries. "The New York Times" reports the pilot experienced problems with the Boeing 737 MAX 8 almost immediately after takeoff. According to "The Times," air traffic controllers saw the plane pitching wildly up and down and accelerating to an abnormal speed.
Dozens of --
ASHER: -- people have been killed by a tropical cyclone that's barreled inland from Mozambique and hit the coast on Thursday. It is cut off a city of half a million people, knocking out power and shutting down the airport as well. Now officials in Zimbabwe are reporting a growing death toll and widespread damage there. Houses and bridges were washed away.
ASHER: All right. Back now to our Kristie Lu Stout in Christchurch for more on the shootings there.
STOUT: Hi, Zain.
It is almost 7:30 in the morning here in Christchurch. The sun is up. And finally, getting a chance to look up and close at the scenes behind us here. Just one of many floral tributes across the city in front of places of worship to honor the victims of the terror attacks that took place on Friday, 49 people dead as a result of the terror and the hateful act that targeted those two mosques in central Christchurch. And we're also learning more about the victims, their names and
identities and their family members. And we want to introduce them to you.
This is Naeem Rashid. We spoke to his brother, who told us he was a professor at a university after emigrating from Pakistan. His son is named Talha Rashid. He was a student and both father and son were killed in the terror attack in Christchurch.
This man, his name is Daoud Nabi. He fled violence in Afghanistan more than 40 years ago and came here, the refuge of New Zealand. His son said Nabi found hope and a new home in New Zealand.
Khaled Mustafa was a refugee who fled Syria with his wife and three children. After losing her husband, his wife said that she is absolutely devastated. One of Mustafa's sons was wounded in the attacks. He underwent a six-hour operation in Christchurch Hospital.
And we know that there are 20 others who are in hospital at this moment. They are in serious condition, even a 4-year-old girl with gunshot wounds in critical condition. We'll continue to update you on their situation and the aftermath of the terror attacks in Christchurch. I'm Kristie Lu Stout, reporting from New Zealand. You're watching CNN.