Dozens killed in Christchurch mosque attack

By Ben Westcott, Jenni Marsh, Helen Regan, Meg Wagner, Brian Ries, Veronica Rocha, Aimee Lewis, Rob Picheta and Harmeet Kaur, CNN

Updated 0234 GMT (1034 HKT) March 17, 2019
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3:14 p.m. ET, March 15, 2019

Muslim groups raised $200,000 after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. Now, a Jewish group is returning the gesture.

From CNN's Michelle Lou

An orthodox jewish schoolboy passes a memorial for victims of the mass shooting that killed 11 people at the Tree Of Life Synagogue on Oct. 29, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
An orthodox jewish schoolboy passes a memorial for victims of the mass shooting that killed 11 people at the Tree Of Life Synagogue on Oct. 29, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is reciprocating the generosity it received from the Muslim community after a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue last year.

Last October, Muslim groups raised more than $200,000 for the Pittsburgh shooting victims. A gunman stormed into the Tree of Life Synagogue and killed 11 people in what was the deadliest attack ever on Jews in the United States.

The Jewish organization is now working to help the Muslim community after a terror attack on two mosques in New Zealand killed at least 49 people.

In a statement today, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh said it is accepting donations.

“Unfortunately, we are all too familiar with the devastating effect a mass shooting has on a faith community,” said Meryl Ainsman, chair of the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. “We are filled with grief over this senseless act of hate. May those who were injured heal quickly and fully, and may the memories of the victims forever be a blessing.”
3:12 p.m. ET, March 15, 2019

US congresswoman: "I hugged my two brown, Muslim boys a little tighter and longer" this morning

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American to serve in the US House, and one of the first two muslim women elected to US Congress in the last election, issued an emotional statement detailing how she hugged her two children this morning "a little tighter and longer."

She also wrote she was "so angry at those who follow the 'white supremacy' agenda" in the US, which she said "sends a signal across the world that massacres like this is some kind of call to action."

Read her full statement:

“A church, a masjid (mosque), a temple and synagogue — we can all recount a horrific event that has happened in each of those places while people were worshipping. From Charleston, to Pittsburgh, Texas, Oak Creek, New Zealand and many places in between, white supremacists are targeting places of worship to push their violent, racist and terrorist agenda.
“This morning I tried to hold back tears as I hugged my two brown, Muslim boys a little tighter and longer. The painful loss of life based on hate makes me so angry. I am so angry at those who follow the "white supremacy" agenda in my own country that sends a signal across the world that massacres like this is some kind of call to action. 
“Today, is Jumu'ah (Friday) prayer for Muslims across our nation, and as each one kneels to worship Allah (yes, it means God), I pray that they are protected and can find some kind of peace. I hope that our children don't become numb to this, and that this is not their new normal.”
2:37 p.m. ET, March 15, 2019

US Homeland Security secretary: "Attacks on peaceful people in their place of worship are abhorrent"

ALEX EDELMAN/AFP/Getty Images
ALEX EDELMAN/AFP/Getty Images

US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen issued a statement regarding the deadly terror attack at two mosques in New Zealand, calling it "abhorrent."

"Religious liberty is a hallmark of this country. Attacks on peaceful people in their place of worship are abhorrent and will not be tolerated. The Department strongly stands with those of all faiths as they seek to worship in peace and we will continue to work with stakeholders to protect the ability of all to worship freely and without fear," she said in the statement.

Nielsen went on to say the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring the attack and isn't aware of any credible threats in the US.

"While we are not aware of any current, credible or active threat domestically, nor of any current information regarding obvious ties between the perpetrators in New Zealand and anyone in the US — the Department is cognizant of the potential concerns members of Muslim-American communities may have as they gather at today’s congregational prayers," she said.

1:10 p.m. ET, March 15, 2019

Heavily armed NYPD officers are standing guard outside New York's mosques

The NYPD's counterterrorism unit has positioned heavily armed officers outside a number of New York City mosques & religious institutions in response to the New Zealand terror attack, it said on Twitter.

"Please do not be alarmed of the increased presence. We are working closely w/ the community to keep you safe."

On the Brian Lehrer radio show earlier this morning, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke about how the city is increasing security at Mosques at places of worship in light of the New Zealand attacks. He also said there is no credible threat to New York City.

"We are immediately — the NYPD — is reinforcing Muslim community centers and mosques. So you'll see a lot of NYPD presence. Of course, folks will be going to pray today. We want them to be supported," he said.

Here's what it looks like:

NYPDCT/Twitter
NYPDCT/Twitter

NYPDCT/Twitter
NYPDCT/Twitter

NYPDCT/Twitter
NYPDCT/Twitter

12:45 p.m. ET, March 15, 2019

UN chief urges everyone to stand with the bereaved Islamic community

From CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

UN Secretary-General's António Guterres is "shocked and appalled" by the terror attack in New Zealand, his spokesperson said, and he "extends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims." 

He also urged non-Muslims to show solidarity with Muslims today.

"The Secretary General recalls the sanctity of mosques and all places of worship," the spokesperson said in a statement. "He calls upon all people on this holy day for Muslims to show signs of solidarity with the bereaved Islamic community."

Guterres underscored the "urgency of working better together globally to counter Islamophobia and eliminate intolerance and violent extremism in all its forms."

 

12:11 p.m. ET, March 15, 2019

Joe Biden: "Silence is complicity. Our children are listening. The time to speak out is now."

Former Vice President Joe Biden just sent three tweets on the New Zealand terror attack, in which he condemned xenophobia and Islamophobia and called for people to speak out.

"Silence is complicity. Our children are listening. The time to speak out is now," he tweeted.

See the tweets:

11:50 a.m. ET, March 15, 2019

Here's how you can help the victims of the attacks

From CNN's Amy Chillag

CNN's Impact Your World is vetting organizations where you can donate to those affected.

One of them is the New Zealand Council of Victim Support Groups. It has launched a crowdfunding campaign to collect funds helping victims of the attack and their families.

As we come across and vet more organizations, we will list them here.

11:43 a.m. ET, March 15, 2019

Today is an important prayer day for Muslims. This expert is urging mosque-goers to not be afraid.

Nihad Awad, national executive director Council on American-Islamic Relations, urged Muslims in the US to worship today — and important day of prayer for Muslims — without fear. He says he is confident local and federal authorities are doing all they can to protect mosques.

“Today is a Friday, and Friday is the weekly prayer for Muslims nationwide,” he said at a news conference. “Millions of people who are Muslim will be in mosques in the next couple of hours, concerned and fearful about their lives, that someone might come and hurt them."

Awad said those who incite violence want Muslims to be fearful.

"Do not be afraid, and do not abandon your mosques — not today, not ever," he said. “They want you to be afraid. You should not be afraid.”

He added that CAIR has "full confidence in local and federal authorities" to provide security.

11:42 a.m. ET, March 15, 2019

FBI: We're ready to help

From CNN's David Shortell and Jessica Schneider

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation said it is ready to help following the terror attack at two New Zealand mosques.

"The FBI stands ready to assist our New Zealand law enforcement partners," the FBI said today.  

The FBI has special agents posted in the region, including in Canberra, Australia.

Some background: The FBI will typically become involved in a foreign criminal investigation that does not involve Americans only at the invitation of that country. It’s not clear if that has happened yet here.