WORLD

New Zealand mosque attacker visited Turkey in 2016 - report

An Australian gunman who killed at least 50 Muslims in Friday's twin terror attacks in New Zealand visited Turkey twice in 2016, said a senior Turkish political analyst cited in a TRT World report.

"The terrorist had entered Turkey in 2016. I believe he spent about 43 days in the country. Now police are trying to find out what he was doing in this country but we can tell from the manifesto that he was very interested in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, there could have been an assassination plot maybe," said Yusuf Erim.

"Our initial assessment is that the perpetrator of today's heinous terror attack in Christchurch, travelled to Turkey multiple times and spent an extended period of time in the country," Erim said during Friday's transmission on TRT World.

He went on to say that the 28-year-old terror suspect, identified as Brenton Harrison Tarrant, could have been searching for future targets in Turkey.

"We also know that he went to a lot of early Christian artifacts and sites in Turkey," Erim said, adding that in a manifesto he is thought to have posted online he mentions Hagia Sophia.

The Hagia Sophia is currently a landmark mosque-turned-museum in Istanbul, previously a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral until 1453 when the Ottoman Empire conquered Istanbul.

He said that Tarrant visited Turkey between March 17-20 in 2016, before the defeated coup of July 15, and entered Turkey again on Sept. 13, 2016. He left the country on Oct. 25, 2016.

The terror attack, during the weekly Friday prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, was streamed live on social media. The footage has since been taken down.

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