The Secretary General of military powerhouse NATO has visited Christchurch’s Al Noor mosque today, warning countries must work together to stop the spread of hateful ideologies.
Jens Stoltenberg was the Prime Minister of Norway when far-right terrorist Anders Breivik killed 69 people at a summer camp in 2011, and now heads the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the world’s most powerful military alliance.
Links have been made between the Norway massacre, the attacks at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch on March 15 which left 51 people dead, and the El Paso massacre yesterday, where a gunman opened fire inside a suburban Walmart in the US state of Texas, killing 20 people in what appears to be a racially motivated attack.
Mr Stoltenberg said today the Christchurch attacks had taught the world there are “many different forms” of terrorism.
“These attacks are committed by lone wolves but they are at the same time connected, because they use each other as inspiration and they refer to each other in the different manifestos and I think we have to fight terrorism in many different ways,” he says.
“Partly it's about police, security, intelligence, NATO has a role to play, but it's about attitudes, values, what we all stand up for our open and free society for tolerance.”
NATO is made up of 28 member states, including the United States, Canada, the UK, Germany, France and other major European powers. Each member must pledge to help the others in an attack, in an agreement which is designed to deter war.
Mr Stoltenberg, who is due to meet Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Wellington tomorrow, also expressed his condolences for the victims of the attacks, laying a wreath at Al Noor Mosque to express his “solidarity” “and “sympathy” for those involved.
Today marks his first visit to New Zealand in his capacity as NATO Secretary General.
Australian Brenton Tarrant has been charged with killing 51 people in the Christchurch attacks. He is due to reappear in court next week.