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Discussion Point: The New Zealand Terrorist's Manifesto: A Look at Some of the Key Narratives, Beliefs and Tropes


On March 15, 2019, an Australian national entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, shooting and killing at least 50 people and wounding another 50. The casualties include a dead 3-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl, who, until recently, was in critical condition. More recently on April 27, a 19-year-old man is alleged to have entered a synagogue in Poway, California, shooting and killing one and wounding three others, including a 9-year-old girl. Current information on the California attack and its alleged perpetrator strongly suggests it was a “copycat” incident largely inspired by the Christchurch attack.

Shortly before each attack, the suspects had allegedly written and posted publications that expressed their justifications for the shootings. My reading of the open letter attributed to the Poway terrorist (“open letter”) indicates it was stylistically and substantively written in a manner largely similar to the New Zealand suspect’s document, and had referenced him directly by name at least 10 times.

Since more information is currently known about the Christchurch attack compared to the Poway attack, in this Discussion Point, I focus on providing a broader survey and analysis of key narratives, beliefs, and tropes found in the alleged New Zealand terrorist’s manifesto (“the manifesto”). In particular, I will focus on important concepts and themes in the manifesto text that have been largely under- or un-reported by media outlets. Where relevant, I compare them to themes identified in the text of the open letter attributed to the alleged terrorist in Poway. The intent is to provide readers with a fuller description of the beliefs used by the attackers to justify their recent terrorist violence.

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Full Citation:

Beutel, Alejandro. 2019. "Discussion Point: The New Zealand Terrorist's Manifesto: A Look at Some of the Key Narratives, Beliefs and Tropes." START (April). https://www.start.umd.edu/news/new-zealand-terrorists-manifesto-look-some-key-narratives-beliefs-and-tropes

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