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CNN Coverage of the Terror Attacks on New Zealand. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 15, 2019 - 18:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Welcome to our continuing breaking news coverage of the terrorist attacks in New Zealand. I'm Hala Gorani. New details are emerging about the suspect in the worst mass shooting New Zealand has ever known. As we wait for him to appear in court any time now, CNN just obtained this amateur video that shows the suspect on the ground moments after police pulled him from his car and arrested him.

There you see it, the Australian man is accused of killing 49 people in two mosques in Christchurch during Friday prayers. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it was clearly a terrorist attack and she is already vowing to change the country's gun laws. She talked about the suspect a short time ago.


JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: This individual has traveled around the world with sporadic periods of time spent in New Zealand. They were not a resident of Christchurch. In fact, they were currently based in Dunedin at the time of this event. Inquiries are ongoing to establish whether the other two who were arrested were directly involved with this incident.


GORANI: All right, well authorities say the gunman live-streamed his massacre on social media and he left behind a manifesto spewing white supremacist hate. Clarissa Ward has our story.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bloodied and shaken, these are among the survivors of terror attacks at two mosques that appear to have been planned for years. Forty-nine people lay dead as New Zealand's prime minister addressed the gunman directly.

ARDERN: You may have chosen us, but we utterly reject and condemn you.

WARD (voice-over): According to authorities, the suspected terrorist is a 28-year-old white Australian man now in custody and charged with murder. He allegedly entered the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch around 1:40 p.m. Friday, just as prayers began.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was hearing the shooting after shooting after shooting. It went on about six minutes or more.

WARD (voice-over): The killer used a body camera to live-stream video to Facebook as he fired and reloaded -- those in his sights trying to escape and protect each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First time I went, one guy was sitting out just beside a wall. And what he did was, he (inaudible) and then I went back again where I was. And the next thing, the guy came and shoots this guy who told me you have to get out.

WARD (voice-over): Forty-one victims are now confirmed dead at the first mosque. At a second mosque, seven more people were gunned down during services and one other died at the hospital. The dual atrocities have shocked New Zealand which prides itself on acceptance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're such a small community. We're so kind and loving. So, I just don't understand why someone would hurt us like this, in such a way just like an animal.

WARD (voice-over): The gunman is now in custody and charged with murder while two others have been arrested on suspicion of possessing firearms. None were previously known to authorities.

ARDERN: These are people who I would describe as having extremist views. That have absolutely no place in New Zealand, and in fact have no place in the world.

WARD (voice-over): In addition to live-streaming his massacre on social media, the accused killer left behind an 87-page manifesto online. In it, he says he chose Christchurch to show that nowhere in the world is safe, adding many anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and pro- white supremacist sentiments. He also made clear the attacks were designed well in advance.

ARDERN: It does appear to have been well planned. Two explosive devices attached to suspect's vehicles have now been found and they have been disarmed.


GORANI: And that was Clarissa Ward reporting. Authorities say the gunman is not from New Zealand. He's actually Australian, leaving many in New Zealand wondering why he decided to target their country in particular. The mayor of Christchurch spoke to reporters a short time ago.


LIANNE DALZIEL, MAYOR OF CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND: This sort of extremism is not something that we have seen here, but he is not from here. He came here. He came here with hate in his heart and intention to kill in his mind. So he did not develop his hatred here.

[18:05:03] He came here to perform this act of terrorism.


GORANI: We don't know much about the victims yet. As far as I can tell, none have been named and certainly when that happens, we'll bring you more details on the lives of those who were killed in such a horrific act of terror.

But the suspect seems to have left behind a manifesto filled with hateful white nationalist rhetoric, and the Southern Poverty Law Center based in the U.S. says the attacker had graffiti on his weapons, slogans linked to white supremacy. Senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin takes a closer look at that angle.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: It's titled The Great Replacement, 87 pages, more than 16,000 words, not rambling, but a spell checked, referenced dissertation on a hate filled view of immigrants, immigration, and Muslims. Unsigned, it's the killer's explanation for why he did this.

ARDERN: These are people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand, and in fact, have no place in the world.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The manifesto was posted online by this man under the name Brenton Tarant. CNN has not yet confirmed this is his real name, but there is no doubt the 28-year-old under arrest is a white supremacist who believes his own white European race is being wiped out by immigration, labeling it white genocide. It is also the universal rallying cry of hate-filled white supremacists across the world. In Charlottesville, Virginia, the neo-Nazi cry was --

UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Jews will not replace us.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): In Warsaw, Poland in 2017, some marchers in an Independence Day demonstration carried banners that read "White Europe" and "Clean Blood." In 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, a white teenager named Dylann Roof murdered nine African-Americans in a church. The white supremacist reportedly said, "You all are raping our white women, you all are taking over the world," as he gunned down unarmed parishioners.

The rhetoric is old, but new technology has allowed these messages of hate to be spread in real time across the globe. The New Zealand killer streamed parts of his attack live on Facebook. The video spread to YouTube, Twitter, news sites, before police pleaded for it to stop.

MIKE BUSH, POLICE COMMISSIONER OF NEW ZEALAND: I have seen social media footage. It's very disturbing. It shouldn't be in the public domain and we're doing everything we can to remove it.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): But hours after the attack, copies of the gruesome video still continued to appear, shared by social media users. While police will not discuss motive, the suspect refers to Dylann Roof and writes he was inspired by white supremacist Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway eight years ago.

He does try to explain his own breaking point came in 2017, the French presidential election of what he describes as an anti-white ex-banker and the terror related death of an 11-year-old Swedish girl run down by a Muslim terrorist in a stolen truck in Stockholm, a crime he writes he could no longer ignore.


GORANI: Drew Griffin there. Officials in New Zealand are labeling this a terrorist attack, and U.S. President Donald Trump in the last hour called it terror as well. Let's bring in Juliette Kayyem, a national security intelligence and terrorism analyst for CNN. I'm interested in this angle, Juliette, that this suspect and the prime minister of New Zealand confirmed this, traveled all around the world.

That in his manifesto, he says he was inspired by other white supremacists mass killers like Anders Breivik and Dylann Roof. Is this some sort of global white supremacy threat we should be taking a lot more seriously?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Absolutely, and there's been, you know, it's not like we wake up one day and there's all of a sudden an epidemic. We have been noting it domestically in terms of FBI investigation numbers, certainly in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

And so, understanding it as a phenomenon is the only way we're going to be able to stop it. You can't just look at each of these individual cases and say that guy was crazy. This one had X, Y, Z. That one was on drugs. Basically, these are white men who are part of a movement, a global movement of white nationalist radicalization that justifies the use of violence and killing to propagate their ideology.

Hate is not new, right? That's been around forever, but it's this idea of a zero sum game that as a white male I am threatened by the other. I can't coexist with them. They must be gone. And that's the ideology. It's absolutely terrifying in such a, you know, diverse world that we live in.

GORANI: I was particularly struck that the prime minister of New Zealand said this suspect was not on any watch list in New Zealand or in Australia.

[18:10:02] And that he purchased his weapons with a valid gun license. I can't imagine that his manifesto was the first time that he expressed these white supremacist views.

And the prime minister seemed to acknowledge that there was an intelligence, if not, failure, at least a lapse somewhere that didn't allow them to identify this guy as a threat.

KAYYEM: Right. That's right. And part of that, of course, is that because so much of our orientation in counterterrorism is focused on the ISIS threat, right, on a certain kind of terrorist threat that we're not picking up on a radicalization that's happening that is actually much more violent in many of these countries.

Whether it's against Muslims or Jews or African-Americans like in the case here. So we're going to have to reorient what we're looking for so that these people actually are picked up in the process of their radicalization.

This is what we actually learned to do in terms of violent extremism related to ISIS or al-Qaeda, and it's what we now have to do in terms of sort of white nationalist violence.

GORANI: But how do you do that because these white supremacist attacks are -- their targets change and they shift over time. It's either the, I mean, the Pittsburgh synagogue, was against Jews. The Dylann Roof attack was against African-Americans. In this case, it's Muslims, you know.

Is it harder to identify these threats because they might be self- radicalized and alone and not working within a cell or not financed globally or internationally?

KAYYEM: I mean, I think it does make it harder, but there are a couple of things that are important to begin this effort. So the first, of course, name and identify it as a phenomenon because then you can orient counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts towards focusing on this kind of radicalization.

The second thing is to understand that these are not actually lone wolves. This is a movement that is using social media, these platforms, to essentially justify, herald, and applaud violence against minorities. So, understanding how they're communicating, stopping the ways that they're communicating and starting investigations based on that communication.

And then I think the third thing is, you know, focusing on not being afraid to call this what this is, right? It is, you know, in other words, we worry, oh, well, it's free speech. You know, people -- that's actually not true, right? I mean, in other words, this is a violent extremism and so we need to begin to feel empowered to address that because it's much more violent for many of these communities than the ISIS-inspired terrorism is at this stage.

GORANI: And there are three people in custody. I mean, I'd be curious to learn more about, and I'm sure authorities will tell us more, but about the other two and whether or not they're directly involved because I can't remember another, at least in the last few years, a white supremacist attack that involved more than one attacker. So if you have two helped or helped financed or organize or whatever their role was or drive a car that takes it kind of to another level.

KAYYEM: Right, and also -- exactly. So, there might be a network in Australia or some network he aligned within New Zealand. His global travels will tell us something about who is he communicating with and who are these people. It's our responsibility on the outside of these groups, obviously, to condemn it. And to condemn those who would use their public platforms to give comfort to this ideology, right. We have a challenge now that too much of our public discourse somehow

dismisses this or tries to minimize it, as we saw today with President Donald Trump. And so we need to be vocal about it. But the idea that he's alone in the world, I just -- I don't buy it.

I mean, in other words, he was supported by a network that exists to do exactly what he did. And we need to focus on dismantling that network, like we would any other terrorism network.

GORANI: But do you think in the same way ISIS recruits that this is a network with some sort of central command? I mean, where you have people who are grooming and recruiting others, or is it not -- it doesn't mirror ISIS in that sense? It's just that it's a global network in the sense that people with similar ideologies communicate and inspire each other.

KAYYEM: Right. And then one of them becomes the one who is willing to go and kill. It's exactly that. So, the way I described ISIS radicalization especially for those in the west is, ISIS was selling and they were buying. I mean, in other words, it could have been anyone, right? So these are men in the case of right-wing extremism, you know, who are -- who have sort of inclination towards these believes.

[18:15:03] They become radicalized online. They are on platforms that the social media companies know are noxious and in violation of their own standards. And they're not bringing down fast enough. They find each other. They get access to weapons and then they do a terror incident like this.

But to view it as sort of just, you know, one person here, there, and there, who are just sort of being violent now dismisses the uptick in the movement that we have seen over the last two to four years.

GORANI: Juliette Kayyem, always a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

GORANI: Well, one of the attacks appears to have been live-streamed on social media. The video has been removed, but police are asking people not to share it. Facebook says that it tries to police its platform, but something like this did in the end slip through. And also, it's not impossible believe me, to find that video online if you really want to. Samuel Burke has that angle.

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: It is truly a vicious cycle. Not only was the attacker influenced by social media, evident from the manifesto he linked to on twitter, the fact that a body camera was used to broadcast live on Facebook shows social media was a part of the attacker's planning.

Now, Facebook says it quickly took down the original video. We don't know if quickly meant during the 17 minutes that it was broadcast live on Facebook, or if it was a long time after the video was already available for many to see. Plus, many, many hours after the attack, the video could still be found on major social media platforms. In fact, it was shared by a twitter account with nearly 700,000 followers.

Now, you'll hear people say don't share the video online, but even just watching it spreads the recording on the internet. That's because algorithms count how many people are watching and then show it to more and more users.

And it is troubling that some T.V. news outlets even showed the raw video, and that confuses the algorithms which should be automatically taking the video down once it's flagged. That's because when it sees logos and news graphics from a media organization, that tells the algorithms this is something that could be journalistically sound, so then we have to wait for a human moderators to come down and take the video away.

Now, if you look at this Facebook page posted long after the attacks, it warns about graphic content but simply has a video button that says uncover to click and see it.

For its part, Facebook says, "New Zealand police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the live-stream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter's Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video. We're also removing praise for and support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we're aware."

Clearly not fast enough on a platform with billions of users and billions in revenue. I am Samuel Burke, back to you.

GORANI: Coming up, people around the world are honoring the victims of the New Zealand massacre. We'll look at some of the tributes ahead.


GORANI: Islamophobia and right wing extremist views are being largely blamed for the Christchurch mosque attacks. Majority of Muslim countries have condemned the incident. In Istanbul for instance, people gathered to voice their anger and pray for those killed. CNN's Arwa Damon is there.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There has been so much shock at every level here in the region, and widespread condemnations from just about anyone who you will talk to. In Turkey, following Friday prayers in Istanbul at one of the main mosques, people held a commemoration, something of a funeral in absentia for those who had perished in the horrific New Zealand.

And Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had some pretty pointed comments, saying that this was by and large a result of rising Islamophobia. He said that Islamophobia has long been watched and even encouraged in the world, and now after this attack has crossed the line from individual harassment to resulting in mass murder.

And then he went on to try to urge nations to come together, calling on the entire world, and especially western countries, he said, to take measures against these types of events which threaten all of mankind. And that was a sentiment that we heard from normal people that we were just talking to.

A cab driver was telling me that as heartbroken and horrified as he was over all of this, he also went on to emphasize that people should not allow this kind of hatred, these kinds of horrific attacks to foment even further divisions because whether it's terrorist organizations or whether it's individuals, whether it's a result of Islamophobia or rising anti-immigration rhetoric or anti any sort of religion out there.

There is so much hatred that all of us as individuals have a duty or responsibility to try to stand against to prevent this kind of violence from taking place once more. Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.

GORANI: So we have some news just in. The suspect has been charged with one count of murder so far. There are 49 victims, according to authorities. This would be charged for one of those victims, it appears. Brenton Harrison Tarrant, age 28, has appeared in court today in Christchurch.

As I mentioned, charged with that one count relating to the mass shooting earlier on Friday. Presumably, it would mean he will be charged later on with certainly other charges related to the murder of 49 people that we know now have been killed.

He is in custody. The victim, by the way, has not been named. So the court is not allowing the naming of the victim that this one charge is related to. We'll bring you more news when we have it on this court appearance.

As the world expresses anger and condolences, the community in New Zealand is mourning those they actually knew. Let's speak to Aliya Danzeisen who works with a Muslim women's organization in Auckland. Aliya, so you're in Auckland. This happened in Christchurch, but are there any people that you know who may have had loved ones, relatives, friends, anyone connected with these terrorist attacks in Christchurch Friday?

ALIYA DANZEISEN, WAIKATO MUSLIM ASSOCIATION: Yes. Yes. We have personal friends who have wounded children and their husbands. And yes, the whole community. We're a close-knit community. We are a small community and so it's not uncommon for us to know each other. And so we're only 50,000 here in New Zealand, a Muslim community, and so we do know quite a few of the victims, most wounded and dead.

GORANI: Yes, what have they been telling you?

DANZEISEN: They're in shock. And they're trying to get through it. And they just need and they are requesting prayers and they requesting that people support. And they're also requesting that the world not look at New Zealand as this one attack. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people and this is not representative of what our experiences have been.

For, you know, we have been very, very safe, and we have a saying in New Zealand, kia kaha, which means stay strong. And that is what our community is saying to each other, but they are also saying it to the whole wider community in New Zealand, but actually to the world, kia kaha.

GORANI: So do you have any concerns for your safety now? As a Muslim woman who wears a hijab?

[18:25:06] DANZEISEN: Well, in the world right now, we are identifiable. And with the rhetoric that goes around from world leaders, identifying us as other or different, we are humans. We are -- we have children. We educate. We do everything that every other individual does. And we have the same feelings and the same emotions, but somehow, in the last few years, many national leaders have been treating us like other.

International leaders, rather, have been treating us like something apart. And that is not acceptable, and it's not right. And every world leader should be confronting any other world leader who does that. And they shouldn't be associated --

GORANI: Yes. Because we spoke to some people in Christchurch, there was one Muslim woman wearing a head scarf, and she said I'm worried now. Should I be identifiable in this way and walk down the street alone? And she had these concerns. Do you share that type of concern?

DANZEISEN: In New Zealand, we get noticed, and people have said things and we clearly are the most identifiable. But it would not be any more than anyone else. And it is our right to practice our religion. And this is, you know, our beliefs. And people who are going to try and prevent us from just the way we dress -- I don't go to the beach and tell somebody not to wear something.

And, you know, my rights don't impact anyone else's in the sense of how I dress. And the thing is, you know, a person's rights and where mine knows begins and how I dress is my own choice. I feel comfortable. I have been out and about today feeling comfortable. And in fact, when I walked into the petrol station today, the attendants were immediately able to condole me and my community even though they were not Muslim.

They knew who I was and they were supportive. I don't think Muslim women should be afraid to go out. Actually, I have been able to do that today. I'm going down to Christchurch to support my sisters within the next couple of hours. And we will be there. And I will be wearing this.

GORANI: You'll be wearing what you're wearing, obviously. Aliya, thanks. I think we had a slight audio glitch there, but I want to wish you good luck. I know you're going to Christchurch to, you know, spend some time with members of the community who are suffering so much today and who have several days, weeks, and months ahead of them of difficult times. Aliya Danzeisen, works with the Muslim women's organization in Auckland. Thanks very much for your time.

DANZEISEN: Thank you.

GORANI: So, if you would like -- thank you. If you would like to help the victims of the Christchurch shooting, CNN has some vetted organizations that are collecting donations. And you can find the list on

Still ahead, I spoke with New Zealand's former prime minister. Find out what changes she thinks her country should make in response to the attack.


GORANI: Here's a quick look at your headlines before we move on. The suspect in New Zealand's worst ever mass killing is now in court facing murder charges. The Australian man is accused of killing 49 people in two mosques in Christchurch during Friday prayers. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was clearly a terrorist attack and she's already vowing to change the country's gun laws.

We obtained this amateur video a short time ago. It's a bit hard to make out, but it shows the suspect on the ground surrounded by police. Moments after they pulled him from his car and arrested him. There you see him kin of liked slammed on to the pavement.

Brave police officers there, especially considering we now know he was armed with five weapons, two semiautomatic rifles. Let's go straight to CNN's Will Ripley live for us with the very latest. Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, the headline one of the main newspapers in Christchurch, the press, pretty much sums up the feeling there, "End of Innocence." This is a city that viewed itself as a safe haven. People thought that they were immune from the kind of violence that has plagued the United States, these mass shootings.

And that may be precisely why this suspect, Brenton Tarran, targeted Christchurch and targeted New Zealand, to make people feel that no matter where they live, they're not safe. Of course, he spelled out his motivations in that 16,000-word diatribe filled with anti- immigrant, anti-Muslim hate, anger, white supremacist ideology that some are worried could be spreading around the world.

And this attack surely underscores that fear, really just horrifying, shocking moments on the streets of Christchurch as this all unfolded, which is exactly what the suspect intended.


RIPLEY (voice-over): Police say the gunman opened fire shortly before 2:00 in the afternoon, targeting two mosques just as Friday prayers were beginning. The assault was brutal and relentless. The killer at times leaving the Al Noor mosque to retrieve a second gun and fire into the street before returning to continue the carnage leaving more than 40 dead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something like this could happen in New Zealand, in Christchurch of all places with such a small community, we're so kind and loving. So I just don't understand why someone would hurt us like this, in such a way just like an animal. Like, why would you treat us like that? We have done nothing, nothing wrong to you.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The killer appeared to have carefully planned the attack and may have driven to a second mosque about three miles away, opening fire and killing at least seven more. Tonight, the 28- year-old man is under arrest and others are being questioned.

Police in Christchurch say they found explosives attached to cars. The rifles used in the attacks covered in white supremacist graffiti. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern calls it a terror attack and one of New Zealand's darkest days.

ARDERN: These are people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand. And in fact, have no place in the world.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Police found an 87-page manifesto filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas posted online just before the attack unfolded under the name Brenton Tarrant. A 17-minute video purported to be a live-stream of the shootings taken from a body camera, went viral on social media. CNN is not showing the video and police strongly urge the public not to share it, as websites scramble to take it down.

SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: We are shocked. We're appalled. We are outraged. This attack reminds us of the evil that is ever present and would seek to strike out at any time.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Tonight, police in major American cities are at a state of heightened alert with increased security staged at mosques in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

[18:35:06] Around the world, stepped up security at mosques and places of worship as the U.N. Secretary-General urged non-Muslims to show signs of solidarity with the bereaved Islamic community.


RIPLEY (on camera): Brenton Tarrant said in that manifesto that he's been thinking about this attack, planning this attack, for two years. And the mosques that he selected to target, he chose them about three months ago. He also in that document expressed zero remorse, Hala, for the people that he intended to kill, including the children.

GORANI: And you also referenced past attacks. He referenced the U.S. president. I mean, there were a lot of specifics in that manifesto as well. What do they tell us about his motive?

RIPLEY: He did mention President Trump saying that he was a renewed symbol of perhaps white power, but he also said he didn't think that President Trump is a strong leader. But this manifesto basically regurgitates a lot of false ideology that these white supremacist groups have been spewing, you know, one of them, the false claim that there is a mass genocide under way of white people around the world.

But it's the kind of thing that has been spread on social media, these hidden Facebook groups, the kind of things that are very hard even for, you know, the people who try to weed out this kind of thing from social media, it's hard for them to detect when they're in these closed groups. And so this ideology spreads and it grows inside people, presumably

like Brenton Tarrant, who then decided that he wanted to do something about it. And you know, even the songs that he was playing in this video that he was live-streaming on Facebook, you know, motivating him.

It almost seemed as if he was enjoying the moment at times as he was going from mosque to mosque with his gun, opening fire. Just absolutely terrifying, but it does give us a window into the mindset of these kinds of groups, Hala.

GORANI: Yes, it is absolutely sickening. Thank you very much for that, Will Ripley.

New Zealand is a small country with a population of fewer than 5 million people. There are more people living in Paris or London than in the entire country. And it is mourning after these harrowing events. I spoke earlier with the former prime minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark. She says this is not the New Zealand that she knows.


HELEN CLARK, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: When I woke up in (inaudible) this morning to the messages, I was in total disbelief. This is not the New Zealand we know. We are peaceful. We are tolerant. We are diverse. We don't have this kind of thing happening, and there it was. A terrible mass shooting with so many innocent people at Friday prayers killed and so many other injured. I think we're all in a state of shock about this.

GORANI: You're in a state of shock and I've heard a lot of New Zealanders say the same thing. This is not what we're about. But the reality is this suspect was living among ordinary New Zealanders. This ideology of hate, of white supremacy exists there as well as in other countries. Why do you think the signs were missed? Why do you think people are in such shock today?

CLARK: This man was not on any watch list. He has accomplices. They were not on any watch list. So undoubtedly, after people come to terms with the grief and the fact this happened, many questions will be raised as to why weren't they on any watch list? Did they keep their powder dry? Was there material on social media that social media platforms should have stopped or that police or intelligence agencies should have seen? All those questions must be asked.

GORANI: Are you worried this might not be an isolated event, that there could be copycat attacks, that type of thing?

CLARK: Well, one is always worried about that. We watch the series of horribly tragic shootings in the United States, which often appear to have copycat elements so I think New Zealanders will be very alert right now to any sign that anything might be repeated.

GORANI: And the current prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, she said this was a well-planned terrorist attack and one of New Zealand's darkest days. I want to remind our viewers what she said in the immediate aftermath of the massacres.


ARDERN: Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand. They may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence.


[18:39:59] GORANI: How much do you think, Helen Clark, some of the Islamophobic rhetoric we have been hearing from politicians around the world has contributed to the radicalization of some people who believe these attacks are justified?

CLARK: I think that this discourse tragically is now international. It's perpetrated through social media. Platforms are very slow to remove things. These crazy people do network. I fear that where one of the aspects of globalization we're dealing with now is the wide propagation of these very extreme and dangerous ideas.

GORANI: Yes, but I mean, that you could say that's the case for ISIS or for Islamic extremist groups. But in this particular case, you have mainstream politicians who are embracing this rhetoric and spreading it. I mean, one Australian sitting senator tweeted something that many considered very abhorrent, essentially blaming Muslim immigration for this violence, blaming the victim for the attack on the Muslim community.

CLARK: That clearly is a ridiculous and abhorrent statement which won't get any traction in New Zealand. But right now, we have to come to terms with the fact that more people were killed in a single day, far more, than in the last year in New Zealand. This is a very, very bleak time for us.

GORANI: What needs to happen, Mrs. Clark, going forward to make sure this doesn't happen again? Because you have mentioned the suspects were not on watch lists. What does that tell you, that perhaps officials or law enforcement or intelligence agencies are not aware enough of the threat that these white supremacist groups pose?

CLARK: I think those questions will be asked. At this point, I don't have enough information to know whether these people were actually themselves active on social media. There does appear to have been some links drawn with the Norwegian mass murderer of a few years ago who killed 70 young people.

So certainly, I think a wake-up call to our intelligence and police that this is a very real threat, that they need to be equipped to fight, and of course, politicians will have to vote the resources to help them do that.

I think it will also provoke reflection on a tightening of the gun laws, which I would personally support. Obviously, our laws are more stringent than those of the USA, but not as stringent I understand as for Australia and Europe. So, New Zealand has work to do there.


GORANI: Helen Clark, the former prime minister of New Zealand speaking to me. There's an impromptu vigil taking place in Christchurch. It's an emotional moment, right outside I believe of the two mosques, the Al Noor mosque where we earlier saw people dropping off flowers and paying tribute to the victims, 49 in total, of these terrorists attacks. This was just moments ago outside the mosque in Christchurch.




GORANI: Impromptu tribute there to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Christchurch right outside the Al Noor mosque, one of the two mosques that was targeted by the shooter. He's been charged now with one count of murder, many more to follow. The name of the victim has not been released by the court.

The 28-year-old alleged attacker in this case has truly left a trail of destruction, grief, bloodshed, and misery in his midst. All in the name, we believe, of a white supremacist ideology based on hate. Tributes for victims of the mosque attacks are pouring in from around the world, including world leaders sending their condolences to a nation mourning this senseless loss of life.


MORRISON: There's family members without New Zealand cousins today. We grieve. We are shocked. We're appalled. We are outraged. But I particularly want to express my sincere prayers and thoughts for those New Zealander as indeed Australians of Islamic faith today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible). We are here (inaudible) to deliver a very simple message. That it was an act extremism, that it was an act of bandless (ph) horrific violence. (Inaudible) for it was. Unspeakable act (inaudible).

JEREMY CORBYN, U.K. OPPOSITION LEADER: Communities come together. Communities support each other. And we are happy with our diversity in our society.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Colleagues, I propose a minute of silence starting now.

SADIQ KHAN, MAYOR OF LONDON: As far as we're concerned, our diversity is a strength, not a weakness. We don't simply tolerate it. We celebrate it, we embrace it and we respect it.

ANNE GUEGUEN, FRENCH DEPUTY AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N. (translated text): The members of the Security Council express their deepest condolences to the families and love ones of those killed and they express solidarity to the people and the government of New Zealand. I ask those present now to rise for a minute of silence as tribute for the victims.



GORANI: The American president, Donald Trump, offered to help New Zealand in any way possible when he spoke by phone with the prime minister. At a White House event, he called the shootings terror attacks but raised some eyebrows when he answered this question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you see today that white nationalism and the rising threat around the world?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that's the case. I don't know enough about it yet. They're just learning about the person and the people involved, but it's certainly a terrible thing. Terrible thing.


GORANI: For more on Mr. Trump's reaction, let's go to CNN's Abby Phillip who joins us from the White House. What more can you tell us about how because this was not his first reaction. He first early in the day tweeted a reaction to this terrorist attack.

[18:50:04] ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Hala. The president early this morning tweeted his first reaction to the attacks, offering his deepest sympathies to the people of New Zealand. He later offered to help New Zealand in any way that they needed from the U.S. authorities. The FBI has already said that they would be more than happy to help New Zealand authorities as they conduct this investigation.

But it's on the central question of the ideology behind this attack and also the target of the attack, two Muslim communities in New Zealand. And the president had, it seems, a difficult time grappling with that. He never mentioned in his tweets or in his comments the people who were targeted, which were Muslim New Zealanders.

And here in the United States, his relationship with the Muslim community is not great. He is, of course, still the very same president who as a candidate suggested a Muslim ban on people of the Muslim faith coming into the United States, and then as president, tried to make that into policy through a ban.

So, he's had a very muted response to this, not trying to deal with the issue of white supremacy head on, and certainly not trying to reach out specifically to the Muslim community about what they experienced in that horrific attack.

GORANI: And certainly Muslims have not forgotten that it wasn't just during the campaign trail. For many years he's been vilifying Muslims saying there's a Muslim problem in 2011, twice. We need to look into the Muslim problem again in 2015.

We should look at closing mosques on the campaign trail. Study mosques because of the hate spewing from them, et cetera, et cetera. But as you mentioned there in his reaction he didn't specifically mention the victims, the Muslims themselves that were targeted, we believe, because of their faith.

PHILLIP: No, he didn't. You know, he was asked in that clip you played about whether he feels like there is or he believes that there is a rise in white supremacist hate globally, not just in the United States, and he denied that.

He said that he believes it's just a small group. And all of these things are so incredibly linked because everything that we know about this alleged perpetrator, of this attack, is that these were the beliefs that he had.

He used language like an invasion to describe immigration to New Zealand, people of the Muslim faith, to people of African descent coming to that country. But in his event today, Donald Trump was doing an event about a border security in the United States, and he used the language of an invasion as well.

So clearly, the president doesn't see the parallels between the kind of rhetoric that he uses to talk about immigration in the U.S. and the kind of rhetoric that's inspiring people with hateful ideologies around the world.

GORANI: Abby Phillip at the White House. Thanks.

Still to come, social media can spread hate, but it can also be used to spread support and solidarity. That's at least the silver lining there. We'll bring you that story.


GORANI: In the wake of the attacks, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tweeted, "What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence. It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant community - New Zealand is our home - they are us."

[18:55:01] "They are us," those three words quickly became a worldwide hashtag, trending hashtag. Many New Zealanders tweeted along the lines of Ryan McCarvill, "Gunmen, we're not a nation of religions and races, we're a community united. You attacked me and my family when you fired upon Christchurch and we will never forgive you. #theyareus."

And the hashtag spread worldwide. The British Columbia legislature posted on their twitter feed, "Canadian flag flies in half mast today in memory of all victims of the New Zealand shooting. Our thoughts and condolences to all Muslim communities. #theyareus."

The Australian rugby team, North Queensland Cowboys also tweeted saying, "Our hearts are hurting for our New Zealand family #theyareus." And American country music star, Tim McGraw posted, "We are deeply saddened by the horrific news out of New Zealand and we stand with all of our friends there against hatred of any kind #theyareus."

I'm Hala Gorano. Thank you for watching our special coverage. Rosemary Church picks it up from here with more on the terror attack in New Zealand. Stay with CNN.


[18:59:51] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to our continuing coverage of the terrorist attack in New Zealand. I'm Rosemary Church at CNN Center. New Zealand is trying to come to terms with what's being called one of the darkest days in its history.