Tuesday 22 October 2019

Mum was blissfully unaware that her son's world had turned as he travelled the globe

Tearful tribute: Locals lay flowers in tribute to those killed and injured at the Al Noor Mosque. Photo: Getty
Tearful tribute: Locals lay flowers in tribute to those killed and injured at the Al Noor Mosque. Photo: Getty

Victoria Ward

Clutched tightly by his adoring father, the fair-haired blue-eyed toddler was the picture of innocence.

It was, by his mother's own account, one of her fondest memories - the family together on holiday in Hawaii.

Brenton Tarrant had just celebrated his birthday and would go on to enjoy a normal upbringing in New South Wales, alongside his father, Rodney, mother and sister.

Indeed, he describes himself as an "ordinary white man", born into a working class, low-income family of Scottish, Irish and English descent.

By all accounts, his life was unremarkable, leaving school to become a fitness instructor at a local gym. In 2010, his father died of an asbestos-related cancer and shortly afterwards Tarrant left the family home to travel the world.

During the years he was away, his mother, an English teacher, wrote online fondly of her "Brento" and appeared blissfully unaware of how his world had turned.

Tarrant's travels took him through much of Europe, North Korea, India and Japan. Last year, he described Pakistan as "an incredible place filled with the most earnest, kind-hearted and hospitable people in the world".

At some point during this journey, something in Tarrant changed. He is thought to have become obsessed with the terrorist attacks in Europe in 2016 and 2017, specifically referencing the death of 11-year-old Ebba Akerlund, one of five people killed in a terror attack in Stockholm in 2017.

Tarrant's references to British heritage in his 'manifesto' appear tenuous - both his parents and his grandparents are thought to have been born in Australia.

In his 17,000-word manifesto, Tarrant describes his native country as a lacklustre, apathetic offshoot of Britain.

"The origins of my language is European, my culture is European, my political beliefs are European, my philosophical beliefs are European, my identity is European and, most importantly, my blood is European," he writes. "What is an Australian but a drunk European? Kidding, but Australia is a European colony, particularly of British stock and thereby an extension of Europe."

Perhaps tellingly, Tarrant opens the document with 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night', the poem by Dylan Thomas as an ode to his dying father.

He declares himself to be pro-Brexit and admits to being a fascist, saying he feels an affinity with Oswald Mosley.

Yet he goes on to compare himself to Nelson Mandela and state that he expects to win the Nobel Peace prize.

He says he is racist but not a xenophobe and declares support for Donald Trump "as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose".

He cites attacks in Europe as the cause of his radicalisation and states that he hopes to "create conflict" in the US over gun ownership.

He also claims to have had "contact" with Anders Breivik, the terrorist who murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011.

Irish Independent

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