“No aspect of it could have alerted public sector agencies to an impending terrorist attack,” the Royal Commission report said on Tuesday.
The report, however, challenged authorities in Christchurch for deploying “an inappropriate concentration of resources” to probe religious violence in the country, deflecting them from other possible threats such as that of white supremacists, the commission also concluded.
The investigation was formed to examine the authorities’ response and determine whether the attack could have been avoided.
“Ultimately, this 800-page report can be condensed into a simple premise: Muslim New Zealanders need to be safe. Anyone who causes harm to New Zealand, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, must be safe, ”Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday after the report was released.
“New Zealanders deserve a system that does its best to keep you safe, and that’s what we’re committed to building.”
Looking back, there were circumstances that could be linked to the Australian striker’s plan, but the signs were too “sketchy” and it was difficult to gather evidence that deserves immediate action, he said.
Brenton Tarrant led the attack in 2019 and broadcast the murder live on social media.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole earlier this year. He had expressed white supremacist and anti-Muslim views before the murders.
“Overuse of steroids”
The report states that over a year before the attack, Tarrant was found to have exhibited “features of steroid overuse” and had shown no interest in giving up testosterone use.
In July 2018, the gunman also injured his right eye and thigh in a gun accident at his home.
By this time he had already practiced shooting with a large cache of guns. It was around this time that he was injured when his gun malfunctioned and got stuck, according to the report.
He has reportedly sought treatment at Dunedin Hospital, but hospital officials have not alerted police to this.
However, none of these events could have established that he was plotting an attack or already amassing weapons, according to the investigation’s findings.
Wayne Hay of Al Jazeera, who reports from Christchurch, said the Muslim community’s “overarching” sentiment is acceptance and support for the 44 recommendations listed to promote more security.
But at the same time, there were also some who felt that “not enough was said” in the report, about how complaints from the Muslim community were being ignored.
On Monday, Ardern had promised “responsibility” for the families of the victims following the worst massacres in the country’s history.
“I absolutely appreciate that the community will want to see accountability in terms of implementation. They’ll want to see who’s responsible for coordinating some of these efforts… and we’ll deliver that, ”Ardern said during a regular press briefing.
The report took around 18 months to complete and contains interviews with hundreds of people, including security agencies, leaders of the Muslim community, international experts and officials in England, Norway and Australia, as well as with Ardern.
Ardern received praise from around the world for his compassionate response to the attack and for quickly banning the sale of the large capacity semi-automatic weapons used in the attack. She has also started a global movement against radical views online.
However, authorities have come under fire for ignoring repeated warnings from the Muslim community that hate crimes against them are on the rise and that security agencies are not recording these crimes.
Ardern met with family members of the victims and survivors on Sunday and pledged immediate action on the royal commission’s report, but said some recommendations could take time to implement.