Just two weeks before the anniversary of the March 15 attack on Christchurch’s Al Noor Mosque, the members issued with threat of an apparent terror attack.
It was reported that Members of Christchurch’s Al Noor mosque have increased their security measures .
The threat issued on Sunday night on an encrypted messaging app, accompanied by a photo of a masked man sitting in a car outside the mosque.
A police spokeswoman confirmed an investigation into the threat is under way.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was “hard for me to believe” that anyone would threaten the Muslim community in such a way.
Christchurch’s Al Noor one of two mosques targeted in a racially motivated mass shooting on March 15, 2019.
The terrorist, an Australian national, awaits a trial due to begin in June.
“I will be amongst many New Zealanders who will be devastated to see that, as we head towards the one year anniversary of a most horrific terror attack on the Muslim community, that they should then be the target of this kind of activity.”
The threat and accompanying photo posted anonymously to more than 2000 followers on a messaging channel on the encrypted communication app Telegram.
The image shows a man wearing dark sunglasses and a balaclava printed with an image of a human skull. Through a car window the front of the Al Noor mosque seen.
In the background, four people are visible at the entrance of the mosque.
The message attached, written in both English and Russian, implies the people at the “same mosque” would be greeting each other for the “last time”. A gun emoji, or symbol, also used in the message.
The image posted on a messaging channel dedicated to celebrating the March 15 terror attack.
Canterbury Muslim Association spokesman Tony Green said the community has increased security measures at the Al Noor mosque.
“We’ve looked closely at the building itself and we’re going to increase our collective level of vigilance,” he said
“We don’t want to give [the threat] more credence but we also don’t want to be flippant about it.”
Canterbury District Commander Superintendent John Price said while there would be a “heightened response” from police, no general arming order issued.
“We have increased patrols at the mosque and we’ve been working with the community and we also have the Eagle [helicopter] capability that will be providing reassurance and visibility around both mosques.”
He said the threat being treated very seriously and would not tolerated.
“This is just not the New Zealand way, it’s not the way that we behave as a community and people will held to account for any behaviour that’s not in line with the law.”
Price said officers from outside the Canterbury region expected to brought in to Christchurch in the coming weeks to bolster police capabilities.
Islamic Women’s Council
Islamic Women’s Council national co-ordinator Anjum Rahman said police already investigating when she notified them of the threat early on Monday morning.
It would be helpful to have a visible police presence at the mosques as the anniversary of the attack approached, she said.
“There have been threats, more oblique threats, to other mosques in the last six to eight months or so. We know there is ongoing activity, I would just say the public should be vigilant and report anything that they see as suspicious.”
Security Intelligence Service director Rebecca Kitteridge last month warned some Kiwis inspired by the March 15 terror attack, and monitoring such people difficult.