The shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that left 20 people dead and dozens injured is one of several attacks by extremists that appear to have been inspired in part by the assault on two mosques in Christchurch by the Australian terrorist Brenton Tarrant in March.
Just four days after the Christchurch attack, a 19-year-old San Diego college student, John Earnest, expressed regret that he had missed the live stream of the Christchurch attack, saying in a text message that the attacker was “spot on with everything” in the manifesto he posted before the attack, court documents released last week show.
Five days after that message, Earnest set fire to a mosque in Escondido, north of San Diego, where seven people were sleeping and escaped safely, authorities say. A month later Earnest attacked the Poway synagogue outside San Diego, opening fire during a Passover service on April 27 with a military-style semi-automatic rifle, killing one woman and injuring three people, including the rabbi, authorities allege.
Mourners attend a vigil for victims of the deadly shooting that occurred earlier in the day at a shopping centre in El Paso, Texas. Credit:AP
Later police found a document on his laptop that read in part, “Tarrant was a catalyst for me personally. He showed me that it could be done. And that it needed to be done.”
Similarly, Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old suspected of the El Paso attack, is thought to have written and posted his own document. It reads in part: "In general, I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto. This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion."
In the US the private security and intelligence firm SITE Intelligence Group found that after the Christchurch attack there was an unprecedented surge in online activity by white supremacists as well as a call by a group with Islamic State links for attacks on Australians travelling in Indonesia.
“Attacks always spark reactions from different extremist communities, but when it comes to the far right, there was never anything like the response to the Christchurch attack,” SITE’s director, Rita Katz told The Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year.
“If you compared it to jihadist attacks, it was like the 9/11 of far-right terrorists. Even the horrific Norway attacks by Anders Breivik didn’t amass this level of universal approval by the far-right.”
In turn Tarrant, who is to face trial for the Christchurch attack in which he is alleged to have shot dead 51 people and injured 49 more, has written that he was inspired by Breivik, the right-wing terrorist who committed two attacks in Norway in 2011 that left 77 dead.
Tarrant also said that he was taking retaliation for a 2017 attack in Stockholm by an Uzbek man who had sworn allegiance to the Islamic state.
A vigil outside the Poway synagogue, near San Diego.Credit:AP
In an overview of recent attacks written for the journal of the Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point, one of the leading military academies in the United States, Graham Macklin concluded, “given the deliberately self-referential nature of such actions, calculated to inspire further atrocities, many of these individual acts of violence are perhaps better understood not as isolated acts, but as part of a cumulative continuum of ‘collective’ extreme-right violence.”
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