Christchurch mosque attacks: Your act was 'inhuman' - Grief-stricken widow tells gunman

3:35 pm on 25 August 2020

Warning - This story discusses details of the 15 March Christchurch mosque shootings.

An Imam from Linwood Islamic Centre has recalled the moment a gunman opened fire on the worshippers in prayer.

Ibrahim Abdelhalim - victim impact statement. 

PHOTO: JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON

Sentencing for Brenton Tarrant on 51 murder, 40 attempted murder and one terrorism charge.

Seven people died at the Linwood Islamic Centre where Imam Ibrahim Abdelhalim was leading worshippers in prayer. Photo: Stuff / Pool

Brenton Tarrant, 29, is being sentenced for the murder of 51 worshippers at two mosques on 15 March last year.

As well as the 51 murders, he has admitted 40 attempted murder charges and one charge of terrorism.

In his victim impact statement delivered in the High Court at Christchurch, Ibrahim Abdelhalim said he was leading the prayer when Tarrant opened fire on the mosque.

"I was in shock and thought it was a dark dream. I couldn't believe what had just happened.

"I had lost many friends in those few minutes."

This morning the court heard from 18 victims of the terror attack.

Also among them was the father of Tariq Omar who told the gunman he hopes he finds peace, but he will never forgive him.

Rashid Omar, whose son 24-year-old Tariq died at Al Noor Mosque, told Tarrant he had murdered his baby.

"I like to think that you will find peace within yourself but I doubt that peace will ever come to you. I will never be able to forgive you."

Rashid Bin Omar, right - victim impact statement.

PHOTO: JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON

Sentencing for Brenton Tarrant on 51 murder, 40 attempted murder and one terrorism charge.

Rashid Omar, right, whose son was murdered at the Al Noor Mosque. Photo: Stuff / Pool

Kyron Gosse, the nephew of Linda Armstrong, told the High Court the mosque shootings were an attack on New Zealand.

Armstrong was one of those murdered at Linwood Islamic Centre.

Gosse told Justice Cameron Mander he wants him to impose a sentence which will keep people safe from the gunman. By carrying out his attack, the gunman stole New Zealand's innocence, he said.

Kyron Gosse - victim impact statement. 

PHOTO: JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON

Sentencing for Brenton Tarrant on 51 murder, 40 attempted murder and one terrorism charge.

Kyron Gosse Photo: Stuff / Pool

The bravery of Naeem Rashid brings his widow some solace, but she will never fill the void left by the loss of her husband and eldest son.

Ambreen Naeem's victim impact statement was read on her behalf, but she personally stepped in to read a Quran verse to the court.

Her husband, Rashid, charged at the gunman as he shot at worshippers trying to flee the main prayer room at Al Noor Mosque.

Rashid crashed into Tarrant despite being shot and his actions allowed others to escape the prayer room and saved lives.

Her eldest son, Talha Naeem, was also killed in the attack, and the pair were the household's breadwinners.

She and her two remaining sons now have to pick up the pieces of their lives. Her youngest boy is only seven years old.

"I had to tell him that his father and Talha were very brave but that they aren't coming home," her statement said. "I had to tell him that they were in heaven with Allah."

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Ambreen Naeem Photo: RNZ/ Simon Rogers

She had struggled to sleep since the attack and the family's finances were seriously affected.

"Unfortunately, ACC has not recognised a son as the primary earner in our household. I'm having to meet all our financial obligations with a fraction of the income we used to have coming in," her statement said.

She and her husband were both born in Pakistan.

He had a successful career in banking, but decided to give it up so he could spend more time with his family and switched to teaching.

They gained New Zealand residency in 2018.

Naeem Rashid

Naeem Rashid who was killed at the Al Noor Mosque while he was trying to save others from the gunman's bullets. Photo: Supplied

She struggled to understand how someone could target her husband and son because of their faith: "He never discriminated against anyone because of their faith or religion".

Naeem said her husband was a wonderful father.

"He spent a lot of time with his boys ... he taught his boys to grow up to be better people.

"One of my husband's greatest attributes was his ability to get along with anybody."

His surviving sons would always feel the honour of their father's brave actions on 15 March 2019.

The terrorist's actions might have killed 51 people, but there would be at least 100 converts to Islam in their place, she said.

Sentencing for Brenton Tarrant on 51 murder, 40 attempted murder and one terrorism charge.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON

Brenton Tarrant listens to the victim impact statements. Photo: Stuff / Pool

"He tried to scare us but unfortunately for him he targeted the most positive people.

"I feel stronger - stronger and more positive.

"The act he committed is inhuman. The only one who compels me to think of him as human is Allah."

Grieving mother says punishment will 'never be enough'

The mother of 14-year-old Sayyad Milne, Noraini Milne, labelled Tarrant a coward when she gave her victim impact statement this morning.

Noraini Abbas Milne - victim impact statement.

PHOTO: JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON

Sentencing for Brenton Tarrant on 51 murder, 40 attempted murder and one terrorism charge.

Noraini Milne, right, lost her son in the attacks. Photo: Stuff / Pool

Sayyad Milne was among 44 victims murdered at Al Noor Mosque on 15 March last year.

Wasseim Alsati

Wasseim Alsati Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

"I did not care when you didn't plead guilty earlier as I said to people you are already dead to me. Whatever punishment you are going to receive in this world will never be enough."

Meanwhile, one victim is unsure if he wants to read the victim impact statement he has prepared.

Wasseim Alsati and his daughter were shot in the Al Noor Mosque and he has been at the sentencing of the gunman, waiting for his chance to see Brenton Tarrant in the dock.

Taking a break from the hearing, he told RNZ he was looking forward to seeing the gunman go to jail, but he didn't want the killer to see the hurt he had caused.

"He doesn't need to know what has happened to us. Fifty-one killed is enough for the judge to make his decision," he said.

'Everyone is saying how badly it affected them. It's making him happy because that's what he wanted."

Armed police, sniffer dogs and snipers are continuing to patrol outside the courthouse as the hearing continues with more victim impact statements this afternoon.

The sentencing is due to finish on Thursday.

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