Mosque attack plot suspect had video of New Zealand mass killing on phone, court told

A phone recovered from a man on trial for terrorism offences contained three copies of a livestream of the 2019 mass shooting in New Zealand, a court has heard.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 4:35 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 5:09 pm
Sam Imrie is on trial at Edinburgh High Court accused of plotting an attack on a mosque

The attack was carried out on a mosque in Christchurch by Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 people and injured 40 others.

An iPhone belonging to Sam Imrie, 24, also contained a number of images glorifying the New Zealand shooter, with the words “Brenton Tarrant did nothing wrong”, “hail Tarrant” and “Saint Tarrant”.

Giving evidence on Wednesday, Detective Constable Murray Cairns of the Edinburgh organised crime and counter-terrorism unit described the footage of the attack as “horrific.”

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He told the court: “(Tarrant) carried out a filming session of the attack. He livestreamed it at first, which was copied and then went massive on the internet.”

Asked to describe the video, he said: “It’s horrific. It starts with him driving, playing music before arriving at the Islamic centre.

“You see him getting the weapon from his car, going to the Islamic centre, you can see people walking towards him and he starts shooting, murdering them.

“You see him going from room to room, getting back into his vehicle.

“It’s graphic, you see him deciding when to fire and when not to fire.”

Imrie has been charged with posting statements on social media platform Telegram suggesting he was going to carry out an attack on the Fife Islamic Centre in Glenrothes, Fife.

The 24-year-old has also been accused of planning to stream live footage of “an incident”.

DC Cairns told the High Court in Edinburgh he had retrieved the files from the accused’s phone on July 31 2019.

The court was also shown images from the accused’s Facebook page.

The cover photo on the Facebook page was described in court as Adolf Hitler, standing in front of a microphone, addressing a crowd.

His biography read: “Seeing muslims suffer.”

Several symbols associated with “far right Nazism” were also posted on the Facebook page.

DC Cairns said one post which said “1488” could be explained in two parts.

The number 14 related to a sentence in Mein Kampf, a book written by Adolf Hitler, which he told the court said something along the lines of “We must assure a future for our people and a future for white children.”

He said it is associated with “modern neo-Nazi movements.”

The number 88, he said can be read as “HH” or “Heil Hitler”, with the numbers “transposed to letters”.

Later, the court heard a recording of the the accused’s interview with police on July 7 2019.

In it, he denied wanting to kill First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The court previously heard that Imrie had posted on the Telegram app that he wanted Sturgeon “to die”.

Asked if he wanted to kill her, he replied: “No, I just don’t want the SNP to be the most popular party.”

He told police that he was “only pretending” to set fire to a mosque.

Asked if he hated Muslims, Imrie said: “I was just being edgy and drunk. I don’t hate anybody.”

Imrie told police he was a “white nationalist”.

He denied that he wanted to harm people of colour.

DC McCormack, conducting the interview, asked Imrie if he “understood how it looked” to threaten to set fire to a mosque on the Telegram app.

He replied: “I guess so. That’s not how it was. I didn’t do it.”

Among other charges, Imrie is accused of being in possession of neo-Nazi, antisemitic and anti-Muslim material, extreme pornography, including indecent images of children, and an image involving a human corpse.

He is also charged with driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol in July 2019.

He denies all of the nine charges against him, three of which come under the Terrorism Act.

The trial, before Lord Mulholland, continues.

Among other charges, Imrie is accused of being in possession of neo-Nazi, antisemitic and anti-Muslim material, extreme pornography, including indecent images of children, and an image involving a human corpse.

He is also charged with driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol in July 2019.

He denies all of the nine charges against him, three of which come under the Terrorism Act.

The trial, before Lord Mulholland, continues.