New Zealand Police Investigate Threat Against Christchurch Mosque Ahead of First Anniversary of Shooting

Police in New Zealand are investigating after an alleged threat was made against the Masjid Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch ahead of the first anniversary of the terror attack which killed 51 people.

The threat, posted on the encrypted messaging service Telegram on March 1, was accompanied by a photo of a man wearing a balaclava with a human skull printed on it, sitting in a car outside the mosque.

The post, which was written in Russian and English, adds that the worshipers seen going into the mosque will be greeting each other for "the last time" along with a gun emoji symbol, reports Stuff.

The threat comes two weeks before the first anniversary of the Christchurch massacre in which an Australian gunman allegedly killed 51 people in shootings at Masjid Al-Noor and one other mosque on March 15, 2019.

The image was posted in a Telegram messaging channel dedicated to celebrating the Christchurch terror attack.

In a statement to the New Zealand Herald, a police spokesperson said they have been made aware of the threat.

"Police are working closely with the organizations involved and we have the common aim of ensuring the safety of our communities," the spokesperson added.

Speaking to Stuff, Canterbury District Commander Superintendent John Price confirmed that there will be a "heightened response" from police ahead of the anniversary of the shooting and that they are taking the threat seriously.

"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.

"This is just not the New Zealand way, it's not the way that we behave as a community and people will be held to account for any behavior that's not in line with the law," Price added.

Anjum Rahman, founder of the Inclusive Aotearoa Collective, told Newsroom she was not surprised that there would be a new threat ahead of the anniversary of the mosque shooting.

"We were expecting as we lead into the one year anniversary of the attack that there would be a rise in activity, so this is totally not unexpected," Rahman told Newsroom.

Speaking at a press conference, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned the threat.

"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," Ardern said.

Canterbury District Police has been contacted for further comment.

Al Noor Mosque
A policeman patrols as delegates and religious leaders wait to enter Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on March 23, 2019, eight days after a shooting incident claimed the lives of 51 people in two mosques of the city. Anthony WALLACE / AFP/Getty