In his disturbing manifesto, white nationalist terrorist Brenton Tarrant says that he received a blessing in support of the attack from a group called the “reborn Knights Templar.”
What is the “reborn Knights Templar?” Does it really exist? It appears to be a reference to far-right Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, who insisted that he belonged to such a group to combat Islamic migration. Prosecutors at Breivik’s trial thought he made it all up.
In the manifesto, Tarrant – the accused killer of 50 people in two Christchurch mosques – wrote that he supported Breivik and racist Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, among others, and added, “I have only had brief contact with Knight Justiciar Breivik, receiving a blessing for my mission after contacting his brother knights.” He said he had read Roof’s writings. However, he wrote that he “only really took true inspiration from Knight Justiciar Breivik.”
At another point in the disturbing document, which Tarrant uploaded to Twitter and 8chan and emailed to various politicians, he wrote: “no group ordered my attack. I make the decision myself. Though I did contact the reborn Knights Templar for a blessing in support of the attack, which was given.”
He said, though, that he was “not a direct member of any organization or group, though I have donated to many nationalist groups and have interacted with many more.”
According to History.com, the original Knights Templar were “a large organization of devout Christians during the medieval era” whose original mission was to protect Europeans who journeyed to the Holy Land through Muslim-held territories. Known for their possible harboring of the Holy Grail, the Knights Templar expanded into a powerful military force (especially against Islamic armies) and banking organization. “The group developed a reputation as fierce fighters during the Crusades, driven by religious fervor and forbidden from retreating unless significantly outnumbered,” History.com reports. The order was dismantled and subjected to executions and persecution in the 1300s.
However, reported History.com, some people think the Knights Templar “went underground and remains in existence in some form to this day,” and, in the 1700s, freemasons used some of the order’s symbology.
Here’s what you need to know:
Anders Breivik Claimed He Belonged to a New Knights Templar But Refused to Reveal Members or Meetings
Anders Breivik is one of the world’s most notorious murderers. He slew 77 people in Norway in 2011. However, Breivik’s lawyer deemed it “unlikely” that Tarrant could have truly had any contact with Breivik, who is in prison, according to The Local.
Breivik killed his victims at a youth camp on the island of Utoya, saying he did so because they supported multiculturalism, The Local reported, adding that Breivik also posted a much lengthier manifesto. It was called 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, and it contained some of the same themes as those seen in Tarrant’s document.
Breivik also set off a bomb in Oslo.
Tore Bjorgo, the head of the University of Oslo’s Center for Extremism Research, described the similarities between the Breivik and Tarrant attacks to AFP, saying, “there are clearly a lot of the same ideas behind” them, including “the idea that European civilisation is threatened by immigration in general and by Muslim immigration in particular, and that it is legitimate for some people to resort to extreme violence to stop it.”
How does the Knights Templar fit into all of this? According to Diggit Magazine, Breivik “claimed that he did all of this in the name of the Knights Templar.” Breivik mentions the ancient organization throughout his extremely long manifesto. “Breivik conceives himself as a member of the Knights Templar and believes he is executing a long term plan of freeing Europe of Cultural Genocide that finds its roots in the Knights Templar movements,” Diggit Magazine explains.
In his manifesto, Breivik insists he was “ordinated as the 8th Justiciar Knight for the PCCTS, Knights Templar Europe,” which he defines as a “resistance movement” to battle Islam in Europe, reports BBC.
“I joined the session after visiting one of the initial facilitators, a Serbian Crusader Commander and war hero, in Monrovia, Liberia… Our primary objective is to develop PCCTS, Knights Templar into becoming the foremost conservative revolutionary movement in Western Europe [in] the next few decades,” he wrote, according to BBC. He signed a log documenting his planning for the attack: “Sincere regards, Andrew Berwick. Justiciar Knight Commander. Knights Templar Europe. Knights Templar Norway.”
Breivik’s own remarks conflict as to whether the group is real; at one point he calls it a “hypothetical fiction,” but then he says he went to a meeting of the organization in London.
CSMonitor reported in 2012 that Breivik claimed to be a member of the “reborn Knights Templar.” Telegraph reported that Breivik once photographed himself “in a home-made ‘Knights Templar’ uniform, adorned with fake epaulettes, medals, and homemade shoulder badges.”
Telegraph also reported that Breivik’s Knights Templar was an idea he created “from a character in the computer game World of Warcraft” and was something that “existed only in his head.”
During his trial, reports Telegraph, Breivik grew visibly upset when prosecutors tried to paint the reborn Knights Templar as fiction.
Breivik claimed the “Reborn Knights Templar” is “a leaderless network, made to be self-driven cells” and said “For militants, [Knights Templar] is meant to be a version of Al Qaeda,” CSMonitor reported.
The “Knights Templar was Breivik’s fictional terrorist organization, which he deliberately devised to inspire future attacks,” Foreign Policy explains.
But does it exist now?
According to Foreign Policy, “It is too early to tell whether Knights Templar has actually been reborn, or if other members or cells exist, as the Christchurch terrorist seems to suggest.” If true, the site says, “it would be an unprecedented development in the modern history of right-wing terrorism.”
In the Manifesto, Brenton Tarrant Repeatedly Refers to Muslims as ‘Invaders’
Tarrant’s manifesto makes it clear that he sees modern-day immigration to Europe as sort of a modern-day Crusade: A battle of cultures between the Muslim world and European heritage. What he’s upset by most is that Muslims have moved into European countries like France; he’s obsessed with what he sees as declining birthrates in Europe.
“We must crush immigration and deport those invaders already living on our soil,” he wrote. “It is not just a matter of our prosperity, but the very survival of our people.”
The former fitness trainer from Australia said he expects to be “forgotten quickly. Which I do not mind. After all I am a private and mostly introverted person.”
Another section was headlined “to Christians.” He wrote, “Let our lives be stronger than death to fight against the enemies of the Christian people.”
Tarrant streamed a graphic and extremely disturbing live video showing him gunning down people praying in a Christchurch mosque.
The manifesto is basically a racial grievance document that lays out Tarrant’s twisted beliefs that mass murder is justified by immigration and European birthrates. In one especially bizarre section, the gunman presents a list of questions that he assumes people will want to know. Overall, he’s motivated by a perception of white victimhood that he believes justifies violence.
The gunman flashed a white power sign in his first court appearance.
The gunman’s live video shows him repeatedly shooting helpless people, and his Twitter page contained photos of weapons with the names of other mass shooters on them. The gunman states in his manifesto that he believes whites are facing “genocide” and admits that he acted in part because of race. He also brings up some famous names, including Donald Trump, Candace Owens, Michael Jackson, and Madonna.
In addition, a person who appeared to be the same gunman also posted a link to the live video and manifesto in a chat thread called 8chan, which is described by The New York Times as “an online forum known for extremist right-wing discussion.” The user wrote, “Well lads, it’s time to stop sh*tposting and time to make a real life effort post. I will carry out and attack against the invaders, and will even live stream the attack via facebook.”
Various contributors to the extremely disturbing chat thread then cheered the writer on, with some posting Nazi symbols. “Best of luck Brenton Tarrant,” wrote one. “Brenton Tarrant is a f*cking hero” wrote another, as they watched it unfold live, sharing screenshots.
Brenton Tarrant Explained His Background By Calling Himself an ‘Ordinary White Man’
The end of the manifesto proclaims, “Europa arises.” It also contains the bizarre question-and-answer section that reads like an interview. Who is he? The manifesto poses the question he knew many would wonder.
“Just a ordinary white man, 28 years old,” the manifesto explains. “Born in Australia to a working class, low income family. My parents are of Scottish, Irish and English stock. I had a regular childhood, without any great issues. I had little interest in education during my schooling, barely achieving a passing grade.” He claimed he invested in “bitconnect,” used the money to travel, and added, “I am just a regular white man, from a regular family. Who decided to take a stand to ensure a future for my people.”
The prime minister has called the mosque gunman an extremist right-wing terrorist and revealed he’s an Australian citizen.
One of the first victims to be identified is Daoud Nabi; his son told NBC News that his dad heroically died while trying to shield another person. You can read a tribute to him here. You can see a roundup of tributes to all of the victims here as their names are released.
“It’s the birthrates. It’s the birthrates. It’s the birthrates. If there is one thing I want you to remember from these writings, its that the birthrates must change,” Tarrant writes. “Even if we were to deport all Non-Europeans from our lands tomorrow, the European people would still be spiraling into decay and eventual death.”
The manifesto also rants about “mass immigration” in juxtaposition to European birthrates. He calls it a “crisis of mass immigration and sub-replacement fertility” and calls that “an assault on the European people.”
The shooter makes it clear. He intended to attack Muslims.
The manifesto refers to Turks as “roaches” and orders them to “flee to your own lands, while you still have the chance.” He claimed that European men “are to blame. Weak men have created this situation and strong men are needed to fix it.”
As to why he attacked Muslims, he wrote, “They are the most despised group of invaders in the West, attacking them receives the greatest level of support.” He ranted about climate change, saying that by killing “the invaders” he could “kill the overpopulation and by doing so save the environment.”