Win McNamee/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — U.S. authorities and international partners were scrubbing their databases on Friday to determine whether the man now in custody in New Zealand for allegedly launching the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand’s history has any links to their own countries. Police in New Zealand say the alleged gunman, described as being in his late 20s, opened fire inside a mosque in Christchurch and that a shooting at a different mosque killed a total of at least 49 worshipers gathered for Friday prayers. Authorities say a lengthy online document, posted after the shooting and linked to the alleged gunman’s video of the shooting, praised other mass shooters, advocated white supremacy and detailed hatred for immigrants.In the document, the author said he wanted to create a Second Amendment-inspired civil war inside the United States that would further divide Americans along racial and political lines.So far, however, American authorities have not found any evidence that the alleged gunman traveled to the United States in recent years – if at all – according to sources familiar with the matter. Meanwhile, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the U.S. are looking to bolster security at mosques in their regions.“There is no specific or credible threat to our homeland, but all Americans should remain vigilant so we can prevent such violent hate,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen posted to Twitter on Friday.She was unequivocal in her description of the New Zealand attack: “This was an act of terror.” In Washington, D.C., on Friday, police said they were providing “an increased presence at mosques in the nation’s capital,” and city officials were contacting religious leaders in communities there.In New York, the city’s police department announced that it had also deployed “extra NYPD officers” to mosques throughout the city.“The NYPD is committed to the safety of all houses of worship, and the freedom to practice your religion freely without any fear,” the department said in a statement.In addition to the suspected gunman, who has been charged with murder, at least two others were taken into custody by New Zealand police. Authorities have not released the identities of anyone in custody but did say none of them was on a terrorist watchlist.In the statement posted online, the suspected gunman cited an array of mass shooters from around the world, including Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine African-Americans at a Charleston, South Carolina, church in 2015. Such posts online and the surge of social media are a major factor in radicalizing white supremacists, according to John Cohen, a former senior official at the Department of Homeland Security who ran the department’s efforts to stop targeted violence.Online platforms allow “like-minded people who in the past were separated by geography” to share ideas and “spread hateful and violent rhetoric,” said Cohen, who’s now an ABC News contributor.The statement apparently linked to the New Zealand shooting also mentioned Anders Breivik, the Norwegian extremist who killed 69 people at a children’s summer camp in Norway in 2011. As part of the attack, he left behind a statement detailing his far-right views and killed eight others with car bomb in Norway’s capital, Oslo.Breivik’s name has surfaced in several cases inside the United States, most recently three weeks ago when FBI agents arrested a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant described by the FBI as a “domestic terrorist.”According to court documents filed in the case, 49-year-old Christopher Paul Hasson collected a cache of weapons, wrote of his hatred for “muslim scum,” and was looking to launch an attack that would bring back “a white Homeland.”Hasson “routinely perused portions of the Breivik manifesto that instruct a prospective assailant to amass appropriate firearms, food, disguises, and survival supplies,” prosecutors said in court documents. “[C]onsistent with the directions in the Breivik manifesto, the defendant began the process of targeting specific victims, including current and former elected officials,” prosecutors said.When agents raided Hasson’s home, they found 15 firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, according to the court documents.Hasson, however, has only been charged with firearms-related offenses, not any terrorism-related offenses. On Monday, he appeared in a federal court in Maryland and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.In New Zealand on Friday, when authorities searched the suspected gunman’s car, they found two homemade bombs and several weapons, police said. Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Award-winning choreographer Dada Masilo will present her interpretation of the classic Swan Lake ballet. (Image: John Hogg) Arts and culture minister Paul Mashatile hailed the success of the first part of the cultural exchange programme, the French season in South Africa. The two commissioners-general, Laurent Clavel (left) and Bongani Tembe.(Images: Janine Erasmus) MEDIA CONTACTS • Beverley Bradley McCann Public Relations +27 72 272 5166 RELATED ARTICLES • Photos to promote social dialogue • A map fit for a king • SA, France in cultural exchange • Women in Wine is export winner MediaClubSouthAfrica.com reporterThe reciprocal leg of the bilateral cultural exchange Saisons croisées France-Afrique du Sud, which began in June 2012, swings into action between May and December 2013.The two-year-long programme was instigated by presidents Jacob Zuma and Nicolas Sarkozy, and it is based on similar successful events that have already taken place between France and Vietnam, Croatia, India, Russia and Brazil.The aim of the project is to foster a deeper mutual understanding and respect for the cultures of partner countries. South Africa is the first sub-Saharan country to share a season with France.Events will take place in a wide range of categories, including contemporary art; architecture; theatre; political discussion; literature, gastronomy; astronomy; and sport, among others. Towns and cities such as Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Nantes, Saint-Malo, Strasbourg, as well as Réunion Island, will benefit from the exchange.More than 800 South African artists, musicians, dancers, actors, will be jetting off to France over the next eight months. Participants were chosen through a call for applications, which were scrutinised by Laurent Clavel and acclaimed South African tenor Bongani Tembe, the two commissioners-general. They then made recommendations to the joint organising committee.There are around 150 events on offer, but this number and the number of participants is expected to rise, however, as the programme is still open to change. The final tally may come to over 1 000 artists and around 200 events.They will include 250 dance and theatre performances, 50 films, 100 music concerts, 35 workshops, 30 exhibitions, 40 residencies, and 150 wines.“This will create new markets for our cultural goods and services,” said arts and culture minister Paul Mashatile at the launch of the South African season in Johannesburg on 6 May. “This will unleash the potential of the arts, culture and heritage sector to contribute to economic growth, job creation, and sustainable livelihoods, in line with our Mzansi Golden Economy strategy.”“All over France, people will be talking about South Africa,” said newly appointed French ambassador to South Africa, Elisabeth Barbier. “They are waiting to discover the cultures of South Africa, which is sometimes an unknown country.”Cultural collaborationEach of the two partner countries takes a turn to showcase its creative talent in the other country, and the first leg, with French cultural and artistic activities on show all around South Africa between June and November 2012, was hailed as a great success.”All of the activities that were undertaken as part of the French season last year were received most warmly by South Africans,” said Mashatile.Projects included a collaborative photography initiative known as the Social Landscape Project, which involved French and South African photographers capturing images related to land issues; an exhibition titled The King’s Map, Francois le Vaillant in Southern Africa: 1781-1784; the Keiskamma French Festival, where young local musicians presented music pieces by French composers, and more.One of the highlights of the coming season will be the illumination of the Eiffel Tower, a landmark visited by 71-million people in 2011, in the colours of the South African flag. This will happen during the season’s opening week from 28 May to 3 June, and again on 16 June – Youth Day in South Africa – and from 15 to 21 July over the period of former president Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday.“There’s a rich diversity in the programme,” said Tembe. “It’s also varied in the calibre of artists – from Hugh Masekela, Johnny Clegg and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, to grassroots community-based artists such as musicians from the Cape Flats.”South African literature will also come under the spotlight, said Clavel. “At 69 public libraries all across Paris, the focus will be on writing from South Africa, and 12 distinguished poets, including Finuala Dowling, Kgositsile Keorapetse and Gabeba Baderoon, will perform at the Biennale of Poets in Val de Marne.”Other events include an exhibition of Australopithecus sediba at the Toulouse Museum; a rugby match between France and the Springboks; tastings of South African wine; and a series of seminars dedicated to water and the environment. A more detailed programme (docx, 852KB) is available online.