MI5 probe Christchurch mosque murderer over far-right links

MI5 is investigating the man suspected of killing 49 people in a terror attack in New Zealand amid fears that he may have links to far-right groups in the UK.

Australian-born Brenton Tarrant, 28, is accused of carrying out gun attacks in two mosques in Christchurch. He live-streamed one of the killing sprees and was seen to have anti-Muslim slogans painted on his guns and ammunition.

He also published a 74-page document that he referred to as a manifesto in which he incited further hatred against the Islamic faith and claimed he had been inspired by violence including the Finsbury Park mosque attack in London.

Senior security officials have told the Independent Mr Tarrant travelled to Europe as recently as last year and allegedly met with extreme right-wing organisations.

With London mayor Sadiq Khan named among a list of the terrorist's 'enemies' that he wanted to kill, MI5 is now closely examining his online rant and any connections he may have to extremist groups in Britain.

"A New Zealand-type attack has long been considered," said Colonel Richard Kemp, former chair of the government's Cobra group.

Last year, MI5 was given responsibility to lead the fight against right-wing terrorism in the UK amid a spate of incidents by white supremacists to incite violent racial conflict on the country's streets.

The Guardian learned that this switch from police monitoring and management means extreme right-wing activity will now be officially designated as posing a major threat to national security.

It also means that far-right ideology now sits in the same portfolio as Islamist terrorism and Northern Ireland-related terrorism, which are both covered by the domestic security service.

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