The gunman who killed 50 people in Christchurch, New Zealand is being celebrated by right-wing extremists around the world, including in Germany. It is a sign of how the internet has forged a new kind of terrorist threat, and an increasingly emboldened network of radicals.
At around 1:30 p.m. on a recent Friday afternoon, some people on 8chan, an online message board, watched a mass murder unfold. Brenton Tarrant had just announced he would carry out a deadly attack and stream it live on Facebook. The first fans quickly voiced their support. “Good luck,” one user wrote; another: “Sounds fun.” A third person wrote that it was the “best start to a weekend ever.” When Tarrant's head-mounted camera showed him murdering the first person at the entrance to the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand — someone who had just greeted him kindly — a fourth person wrote, “Holy fuck nice shootin.”
Around 200 Facebook users watched through their smartphones, tablets or computers as the 28-year-old got out of his car, opened his trunk where he kept his weapons, and began killing 50 people in and around two mosques. His victims included children, like the 3-year-old Mucad Ibrahim; students, like the 14-year-old Sayyad Milne; men, like the father Khaled Mustafa, and women, like Husne Ara Parvin, who was gunned down while trying to protect her wheelchair-bound husband.