Two arrests made over Christchurch Mosques threat

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Christchurch, March 4, 2021

District Commander Canterbury District Superintendent John Price (Screenshot)

Police have arrested two people in Christchurch and charged one of them after an online threat to Linwood Islamic Centre and Al Noor Mosque.

The arrests come less than two weeks out from the second anniversary of the terror attacks at the mosques in which 51 people were killed.

In a briefing after 830pm on Thursday, Canterbury District Commander Superintendent John Price said that the threats were made on 4Chan.

The post was tipped off to Police through their CrimeStoppers line a couple of days ago.

Threatening to kill charge

Superintendent Price said that he understood the threat had been taken down now.

He said that one of those arrested had already been released and a 27-year-old man has been charged with threatening to kill.

“The threat was credible enough that we took action straight away,” he said.

As a result of the threat made and the context, both Mosques were searched.

What was found during the search cannot be released at this stage, Superintendent Price said.

“Any threat made on people and the community was not tolerated. We take all threats of this nature seriously and we are working closely with our Muslim community. Any messages of hate or people wanting to cause harm in our community will not be tolerated – it is not the Kiwi way,” he said.

Al Noor Islamic Centre, one of the Mosques in Christchurch where the massacre occurred on March 15, 2020 (AFP Photo)

Calling out the behaviour

This behaviour needed to be called out, he said.

“I think we should all have eyes open and looking out for each other.”

The Muslim community was spoken to “pretty soon” after the Police were made aware of the threat, he said.

The Armed Offenders Squad had also assisted as a precautionary measure.

Intensive investigation and inquiries were undertaken by a team fulltime following the threat and further charges were being considered.

“It is a criminal investigation, a threat has been made, and we have acted and responded with the appropriate charge,” Superintendent Price said.

Heightened visibility

New Zealand Police will be on alert during the Christchurch Mosque attack memorial, with heightened visibility of Police at the Mosques already planned, he said.

“It is very concerning for me but also for New Zealanders as a whole. New Zealand is at a medium threat level. I hope that the Muslim community has trust and confidence in the Police to respond to threats like this,” Superintendent Price said.

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