Self-proclaimed white nationalist and New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Harrison Tarrant is believed to be a travel enthusiast and underwent trips to Europe, Middle-East and Asia. He is believed to have undergone a ‘radical change’ during a backpacking odyssey that included trips to North Korea and Pakistan.
According to a report in news.com.au, Tarrant is pictured in Pakistan as recently as last year, according to photographs and messages posted online. Photos shared on social media show him smiling during his Pakistan tour in October 2018.
Tarrant was photographed in a tour group visiting the Samjiyon Grand Monument in North Korea, too. Former friends have speculated Tarrant was "perhaps radicalised" while on his travels, the New Zealand Herald reports.
Tarrant is said to have worked in Bitconnect, a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, and he used the earnings to fund his travels.
It has also been revealed the accused, lived in Dunedin since at least 2017 and has been described by residents as both quiet and someone who liked to talk about his travels. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed on Friday that
Tarrant, 28, believed to be "the primary perpetrator", was a Dunedin resident.
She said he had been in and out of New Zealand "sporadically".
"This individual has travelled around the world, with sporadic periods of time spent in New Zealand. They were not a resident of Christchurch, in fact they were currently based in Dunedin at the time of this event," she said.
It was earlier confirmed he was an Australian citizen.
According to NZ Herald, Bulgarian officials are investigating Brenton Tarrant's recent trip to eastern Europe four months ago. Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov has spoken after a special meeting of security, intelligence and law enforcement chiefs called in Sofia by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack.
The report mentions that Bulgarian officials have noticed Cryllic script and eastern European inscriptions on the automatic rifle magazines found at shooting scenes. They included the names of famous battles and historical figures who fought against Ottoman rule.
Victims with Turkish ancestry were among the 49 killed in yesterday's massacre.
According to Bulgarian prosecutor general, Tarrant had been in Bulgaria between November 9 and 15 last year, after arriving on a flight from Dubai.
He had hired a car and travelled on a route from Sofia via Pleven, Gabrovo, Bachovo, Kazanluk, Blagoevgrad and Pernik, including other places in Bulgaria, the Sofia Globe reports.
"Tarrant apparently visited various places in Bulgaria, including Dryanovo, Pleven, Blagoevgrad, Plovdiv, Asenovgrad, Bachkovo and Bansko," the news outlet said.
"From Bulgaria, he had flown to Bucharest, from where he rented a car and went on Hungary."
Tarrant had talked online about an alleged trip to Pakistan.
It has also been reported that the alleged shooter was a member of the Ottago based Bruce Rifle Club and practised shooting at its range.
Tarrant seemed "as normal as anyone else'' and had "certainly'' never mentioned anything about his beliefs about Muslims.
A person who worked at South Dunedin gym the man frequented said he had been a member since October 2017. She had never heard of him raising his views about Muslims.
Before settling in New Zealand in 2017, Tarrant worked as a personal trainer at Big River Gym in Australia’s northern New South Wales city of Grafton, the ABC news claimed.
According to reports in New Zealand media, Tarrant has been described as someone who had a strange accent and sounded like an upper class English accent, with an Australian twang.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the accused was not previously known to Australian authorities. "He is an Australian-born citizen," Morrison said. "That obviously leads to an Australian-based investigation and all of our inquiries here will be absolutely shared and communicated with New Zealand authorities,” he added.