New Zealand mosque attacks: who were the victims?

New Zealand mosque attacks: who were the victims?
Fifty people were killed in an extremist attack on two New Zealand mosques. These are the names and stories of those killed and injured in the unprecedented act of violence.
4 min read
17 March, 2019
Flowers opposite al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, where 41 were killed [Getty]
The names and stories of the New Zealand mosque shooting victims are slowly becoming known. These are some of the 50 worshippers killed and dozens wounded by a white supremacist who opened fire in two Christchurch mosques.

The first victim, whose identity is as yet unconfirmed, greeted the gunman with "Hello brother" at the mosque's entrance as the killer marched towards al-Noor mosque - where he killed 41 people. 

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, the accused right-wing gun man, appeared in court on Saturday charged with one count of murder. More charges are expected to follow. 

A video of the attack, believed to be livestreamed by Tarrant on Facebook for 17 minutes, graphically depicts the point blank shooting of Friday prayer goers.

The youngest victim was three-year-old Mucad Ibrahim. His older brother Abdi fled for his life and his father pretended to be dead after being shot.

Abdi described his little brother as "energetic, playful and liked to smile and laugh a lot", confessing he felt nothing but "hatred" for his killer.

Four-year-old Abdullahi Dirie, whose four siblings managed to escape, was also killed in Friday's attacks. The family fled Somalia in the mid-1990s as refugees and resettled in New Zealand. His father was hospitalised with gun shot wounds.

Seventy-one-year-old Haji Daoud Ali, who moved his family to New Zealand in 1979 to escape the Soviet-Afghan war, was one of the first victims to be identified. 

Husne Ava Parin, 42, died being struck by bullets while shielding her wheelchair-bound husband, Farid Uddin Ahmed, who survived, her nephew Mahfuz Chowdhury told a Bangladesh newspaper. 

Naeem Rashid, a Pakistani teacher in Christchurch, died trying to tackle the gunman, according to Rashid's brother, Khurshid Alam.

"He was a brave person, and I've heard from a few people there, there were few witnesses, they've said he saved a few lives there by trying to stop that guy," Alam told the BBC.

Rashid's son, Talha Rashid, is also among the dead. Pakistan's ministry of public affairs confirmed their deaths in a tweet.

Heroic attacks by worshippers also impeded the gunman's killing spree at the second site - Linwood mosque. Abdul Aziz, 48, distracted the killer by picking up the first thing he could find - a credit card machine - and running outside, screaming: "Come here!"

He then threw the shooter's discarded gun at his car window, scaring him into driving away. The gunman was arrested shortly after. 

The Australian killed seven at Linwood. Many believe it would have been countless more had it not been for Aziz.

An imam leading prayers at Linwood Mosque said Saturday that the Muslim community's love for New Zealand would not be shaken by the massacre.

"We still love this country," said Ibrahim Abdul Halim, vowing that extremists would "never ever touch our confidence".

Heartbroken New Zealanders lit candles and placed flowers at makeshift memorials set up in the city of Christchurch in the wake of the attack. 

Among the wounded are Jordanian Waseem Daraghmeh - who is in stable condition - and his four-year-old daughter Sabri Daraghmeh who is fighting for her life. 

The Daraghmehs are of Palestinian origin, but have Jordanian citizenship.

The Palestinian foreign ministry said Saturday that at least four Palestinians were among those killed, but acknowledged they could have been counted by Jordan or other countries.

The majority of patients in the hospital were men aged-30 to 40 but there were also two boys aged-two and 13. "Twelve operating theatres worked through the night," said chief of surgery at the hospital, "Many of those injured will need multiple returns to surgery".

Muhammad Amin Nasir, 67, remains in an induced coma with critical injuries. He and his son were just outside al-Noor mosque when the shooter drove away after killed 41.

Iraqi Adeeb Sami, 52, is now recovering after being shot in the back as he dove to protect his two sons, Abdullah, 29, and Ali, 23, Gulf News reported.

A total of four people were arrested following the massacre - two of whom were not involved, police said on Sunday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the "terrorist attack" in Christchurch represented "an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence" on "one of New Zealand's darkest days".

The man who claimed responsibility for the shooting said he came to New Zealand only to plan and train for the attack. He said he was not a member of any organisation, but had donated to and interacted with many nationalist groups.

He said he chose New Zealand because of its location, to show that even the most remote parts of the world were not free of "mass immigration".

Mass shootings in New Zealand are exceedingly rare. Murders are equally as uncommon with 35 murders recorded countrywide in 2017.

Gun ownership, however, is more common, with 1.2 million registered firearms in the country of 4.6 million in 2017. Semi-automatic guns are now set to be banned in the country.