Hiding In Plain Sight


THE RELUCTANCE of many left-wingers to accept that the Christchurch Shooter could not have been stopped is instructive. It betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the motivation driving “Lone Wolf” terrorists. The perpetrators of the sort of mass killings for which Anders Breivik and Brenton Tarrant were convicted conceive of their actions as grotesquely “inspirational” consciousness-raising “statements”.

Precisely because these individuals operate alone; and because they accept the near certainty of being either killed or captured by the authorities; they are extremely difficult to stop. Their missions are “one-offs”. In this regard, their outrages are very different from those planned and executed by organised groups coolly intent upon securing specific political objectives through intimidation and/or terror.

In a mature democracy, like Norway or New Zealand, it is difficult to conceive of any other kind of terrorism except Lone Wolf terrorism. In the absence of deliberate violent oppression, of the sort currently on display in Myanmar, the chances of any ideological current forging a military unit of sufficient fanaticism and operational coherence to carry out a deadly terrorist attack are vanishingly small.

The nearest New Zealand has come to such a unit was the group of left-wing activists observed “training” in the Urewera Ranges more than a decade ago. It is, however, extremely unlikely that the individuals involved in these exercises could have been prevailed upon to initiate the use deadly force. It is possible that fatalities might have been inflicted inadvertently: the result of some jittery young activist transporting firearms being stopped by the Police and panicking. This is, after all, how the Baader-Meinhof/Red Army Faction’s terrorist killing began, back in the 1970s. Even so, in the context of a government presided over by Helen Clark, the Urewera “guerrillas” struck most New Zealanders as tending more towards the farcical than the tragic.

It is the sheer implausibility of organised left-wing violence that has steered New Zealand socialists toward party political alternatives. Even in the midst of the Great Strike of 1913, when armed “Red Fed” strikers exchanged shots with the “Special Constables” summoned from farming districts by the Reform Party Prime Minister, William Massey, trade union leaders understood that the vast majority of New Zealanders were on the side of law and order. This awareness of the futility of raising the red flag of revolution in a nation as red-white-and-blue conservative as New Zealand has always undermined the efforts of novelists and film-makers to persuade us that an armed left-wing guerrilla force would last longer than five minutes against the NZDF.

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Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the other way around. The very same conservatism that made revolution so unlikely, has, throughout this country’s history, been more-than-willing to assist the dominant groups in New Zealand society maintain their hegemony against all-comers: Maori, Red Feds, Watersiders, Anti-Apartheid protesters. In practically every instance, however, the form of that assistance has been officially sanctioned and organised.

New Zealand had no need of a secretive racist terror-group like the Ku Klux Klan – not when an armed constabulary of land-grabbing Pakeha could be readied for action against defiant tangata whenua under the watchful eye of Settler Government ministers.

Nor did its employer class need the services of a Pinkerton Detective Agency – strike-breakers par excellence in the service of US industrial titans like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. Not when the strapping sons of Waikato and Wairarapa cockies could be quietly trained and organised by army officers to serve as New Zealand capitalism’s reserve militia against the Reds – i.e. the Special Constables known forever after as “Massey’s Cossacks”. Those farmers on horseback were called out again following the Depression hunger riots of 1932.

The use of Special Constables (recruited this time from the nation’s Rugby clubs!) was also contemplated during the 151-Day Waterfront Lockout of 1951. But, thanks to the National Party Prime Minister’s, Sid Holland’s, fascistic “Emergency Regulations” (which made it illegal to feed a striker’s family) and the sterling work of the NZ Police in enforcing them, the swearing-in en masse of New Zealand’s Rugby players was not required.

Only once has the existence of a shadowy group of “unofficial” right-wing extremists, ready and willing to do whatever was necessary to preserve the capitalist status quo, come to the attention of New Zealand journalists and historians. Between 1972 and 1975, when the government of, first, Norman Kirk, and then Bill Rowling, were engaged in what was indeed a “transformation” of New Zealand society, a group of junior army officers, working secretly with elements of the SIS and the right-wing news media, began using the “C” word.

The mid-1970s was a time of threatened and actual coups against left-wing governments. In 1973, the democratically-elected socialist government of Chile was overthrown by the Chilean armed forces, and the country’s Marxist president, Salvador Allende, gunned down in his presidential palace. In 1974, Norman Kirk, obviously unwell, died alone and unattended in a second-rate Wellington hospital. His successor, Bill Rowling, was intercepted at Wellington airport by a person claiming to have documents indicating secret machinations against the Labour Government. The following year, the Australian Labor prime minister, Gough Whitlam, was deposed by his own Governor-General in a bloodless coup d’état.

That something similar did not happen here was due largely to the extraordinarily successful populist campaign waged against the Rowling Government by National’s Rob Muldoon. With a 23-seat majority, it was not considered possible for the government to be defeated. Had the political scientists been proved correct, and had Labour won a second term, who knows what those junior officers might have set in motion.

It is worth recalling that 1974 also marked the high-water mark of trade union power in New Zealand. The fear instilled in the employer class by the 10,000-strong march of workers up Queen Street to secure the release of the Moscow-aligned communist union leader, Bill Andersen – jailed for contempt of court – was palpable.

Nor should we forget that only 4 years earlier, following Allende’s 1970 victory, the US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, had told his shadowy secret operations group, the “Forty Committee”, that: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.”

There was a hard core of far-Right activists living in mid-1970s New Zealand: some in the army; some in the SIS; some in the news media; who endorsed Kissinger’s sentiments 100 percent. Thanks to Rob Muldoon, they weren’t needed.

Those on the left of contemporary New Zealand politics, horrified by the Christchurch Mosques Attack, continue to agitate for the country’s national security apparatus to upgrade its surveillance of far-right, white supremacist, extremists. They are convinced that there is a serious threat of coordinated right-wing terrorist activity once again being unleashed against innocent New Zealanders. More preventative effort from the SIS and the GCSB is being demanded.

Unfortunately, the ability of our security agencies to thwart the attack of another Christchurch Shooter is limited. With a modicum of caution, Lone Wolf attackers can avoid detection and interception – until it is far too late.

As for an organised far-right terrorist movement unleashing horror and death in New Zealand – all of our history points to it being unlikely. Only a government with both the numbers and the will to openly challenge the capitalist system could summon forth such a movement. And when it struck, it would, almost certainly, be acting on intelligence supplied by the SIS, and wearing the uniforms of the New Zealand Defence Forces and the Police.

Our far-right terrorists have always hidden in plain sight.


  1. Yep, the antics of those junior army officers with elements of the SIS you refer to seem to have been conveniently forgotten. Actually it’s a shame some enterprising member of the 4th Estate or academic doesn’t delve into that a little deeper now that a few clogs have popped.
    Although they didn’t get their way, a decade or so later another method of keeping the plebs in line came along, and is still with us in the form of a religious neo-liberal cult.
    A couple of things tickled my fancy this past week if only because of the stupidity of it all – the society we’ve created for ourselves through things like the bullshittery of trickle down, greed and the self over community wellbeing- and all the mantras and spin that goes with it.

    The first was the Buchanan/Manning discussion where “Business Models” are applied to the security intelligence sphere. [ TDB links to it. ]

    And the second was Kim Hill’s interview with Mark Carney who seems to have had a partial epiphany.
    Hard to take him completely seriously but he did point out that what started out being “markets as the natural leveller” morphed into “the market is ALWAYS right (correct)”, and he does now appear to recognise the need for degrees of regulation.

    Secondly Mark Carney’s interview with Kim Hill where
    “markets as the natural leveller” morphed into “the market is ALWAYS right (correct)”
    [ Ex Bank of England Governor Mark Carney: building a human-values based economy
    https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/saturday/audio/2018789295/ex-bank-of-england-governor-mark-carney-building-a-human-values-based-economy ]

    Is this neoliberal approach appropriate when it comes to security intelligence, or administrative agencies “serving” a population – msd, OT, corrections, health, education, immigration, etc. AND the commissions and the various ombudsmen.
    Clearly not. Operating these institutions as though they are a “business” ensures failure.

    • Okay so we and I mean us here at TDB have to know everything we can about these guys so we can exert control over them.

      We need to know who’s security they’re concerned about.

      The main issue here is that security and intelligence services are operating in the dark fir there own reasons in support of National Party member Job applications and for corporations such as Peter Teil and we need to know.

  2. ‘In 1973, the democratically-elected socialist government of Chile was overthrown by the Chilean armed forces, and the country’s Marxist president, Salvador Allende, gunned down in his presidential palace.’

    Never forget that the overturning of socialist governments -or even governments committed to self-determination- has always been a prime objective of the US, which has essentially been a covert fascist state since the 1870s. It was the fascistic US that instigated the downfall of the Allende government, and American warplanes rules the skies of Chile, dropping bombs on the presidential palace at will, whilst pro-fascist agitators, sponsored by the CIA disrupted daily life.

    Even now, having been badly mauled in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, the US still poses the greatest threat to NZ national security, far greater than any ‘lone wolf’ or so called terrorist group. The US maintains its hegemony via both military terrorism and financial terrorism.

    The good news is, the US is going down the gurgler almost as fast as bathwater. The bad news is, our political class are firmly locked into denial of reality (as with almost everything else of significance) and are totally unprepared for the conditions that will prevail fairly soon. So it will be then that we will see the true nature of the Adern government.

    • Totally agree.
      And Chile was one of 40-50 such e.g’s in the USA history. A colonial Fascist power who’s control of media (and the narrative) has been so incredible, that 90+% of the (aligned i.e. controlled) world thinks the USA is the good guy.
      See the ‘economic hitman’ book. I IMHO saw ShonkeyJohnkey as the USA’s puppet here in NZ, following the books ‘ideas’.

  3. It was the Muldoon era that saw bombing of the Trades Hall in Wellington and the death of Ernie Abbott.
    These things have always struck me as noteworthy about that terrorist act.
    Police believe it was planted by a disgruntled unionist they have never managed to convict despite the police and Security Intelligence Services heavy surveillance of the Trade Union movement and individuals in it.
    The bomb was expertly made with a mercury switch that would detonate it when somebody moved. The person who made it used a timer to safely carry the bomb to the building and leave it where it was certain to be picked up and therefore explode. It used high quality explosive.
    So a disgruntled trade unionist with expert bomb making skills and access to high explosive( da-de-da-de-da the plot thickens inspector Plod – Yes cuntstable that definitely narrows the number of suspects).
    The day the bomb was planted the place was packed with senior union officials. Pat Kelly the father of Helen Kelly saw the suitcase bomb and the only reason he did not pick it up was he already had his hands full.
    Had the bomb exploded at that time it would have undoubtedly had more victims.

    • On the trail for the Trades Hall bomber, police officers entered a weatherbeaten home on Wellington’s south coast and found a confounding set of clues.

      A pack of detonators, safety fuses, a torch without a battery, four Teal soft drink bottles and an incomplete copy of the June 18, 1977 edition of the Evening Post.

      Edgar Kidman, a marine engineer, lived in the ramshackle house in Breaker Bay. He claimed experience in explosives when interviewed by police and harboured a possible motive – but it wasn’t enough.

      Edgar Kidman, a marine engineer, lived in the ramshackle house in Breaker Bay. He claimed experience in explosives when interviewed by police and harboured a possible motive – but it wasn’t enough.

      The engineer matched the psychological profile of the suspect: a drinker, a hoarder, and a loner. He had expertise in explosives, a violent past, a history of redundancies, and was thought to be anti-union.

      And the bomb’s construction required both considerable expertise and components similar to that found in his home.

      Components identified after the blast included a mercury switch, old stove timer, nine volt lantern battery, an unknown explosive likely to be gelignite, and one or two bottles accelerant – likely petrol – of which one was contained in a Teal soft drink bottle.

      Lining the suitcase were pages nine, 10, 19 and 20 of a June 18, 1977 Evening Post. The pages were missing from the same edition found in Kidman’s home.

      Yet, the evidence was deemed circumstantial and not enough. WTF????

  4. Just because these shooters act alone does not mean they are alone, you do not get radicalized alone, you do not get to a point where you can actually do this, to hell with the consequences, alone
    The problem is we tolerate the shit that leads down this path, in our midst so flying under the radar is not difficult.

  5. We are looking in completely the wrong place if we want to find the next Branton Tarrant or David Gray. Right wing ideology is a complete red herring, as evidenced when Tarrant quickly dropped his crusade after he spoke to his sister. Even a cursory profiling of these people reveals startling similarities;
    -complete loners with detachment from society and most importantly family
    -average to above intelligence with the ability to focus and plan. Obsessive type personality disorder.
    -grossly lacking empathy indicating sociopathic/psychopathic personality disorder
    Interestingly David Gray had been on a similar international sojourn as Tarrant.
    Both had been ostracised and bullied at school which presumably locks in resentment to society and unleashes the existing personality disorders. Simple to identify these children at school and put a program in place to help prevent this type of tragedy.

    • Orbital panda: “Interestingly David Gray had been on a similar international sojourn as Tarrant.”

      I vividly remember the Aramoana shootings. I was working in ChCh at the time, knew people with connections to the area. I also remember the extensive coverage, of the shootings and of Gray himself.

      There was never any mention of his having been overseas. He wasn’t a right-wing radical or a white supremacist: he was an unemployed, misanthropic loner in his early 30s, with shaky mental health and a fascination for guns and military matters.

      If you have other evidence, please post it. I’d certainly be interested to see it.

  6. As society decays and people become more entitled and individualised there will be more terrorist attacks.

    It is happening around the world. Just like NZ is encouraging more criminals to come and reside in NZ – they are also setting up the future where various groups divided by race, religion and age, hate each other and compete against each other.

    NZ should be spending our time and resources on solving and rectifying our bicultural issues, instead of importing in as many problems as they can which take up extensive resources and media time.

    Migrants in NZ are encouraged to think of themselves as entitled victims and many of the terror attacks are from the children of migrants who are privileged and individualised. It is not clear if Tarrent thought of himself as a victim, but he did feel entitled enough and be given the opportunity by the NZ authorities to carry out his terror attack that he planned for 3 years.

    Paris terror attack: Girl admits to lying after her story led to teacher being beheaded on the street

    Woman beheaded in Nice church – three dead in France terror attack

    In OZ

    2014 Sydney hostage crisis – Man Haron Monis, a lone gunman, held hostage ten customers and eight employees of a Lindt chocolate café located at Martin Place in Sydney, Australia. The Sydney siege lead to a 16-hour standoff, during which 3 gunshots were heard from inside over a period of time. The first two shots were fired in the general direction of fleeing hostages and were left unopposed by on scene police command, however police officers from the Tactical Operations Unit stormed the café after reports the third shot was the execution of hostage Tori Johnson. Hostage Katrina Dawson was killed by a ricocheted bullet fragment in the subsequent raid. Monis was also killed. Three other hostages and a police officer were injured by police gunfire during the raid.

    10 February 2015 Fairfield Raids – police in Sydney were tipped off two Islamic jihadists preparing terror attacks, arrested after observed purchasing weapons. They had already made a martyrdom video.[

    2015 Parramatta shooting – 15 year old Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar, an Iraqi-Kurd, shot dead Curtis Cheng, a civilian employee of the New South Wales Police, before being shot dead by a New South Wales Police special constable during a shootout.

    2016 Minto stabbing attack – A 22-year-old man inspired by Islamic State stabbed a man before being arrested and charged with attempted murder. He also inflicted minor injuries on a nearby shop owner.

    2017 Queanbeyan stabbing attacks – On 7 April 2017, a pair of 15 and 16-year-old boys entered a service station in the small town of Queanbeyan in NSW and stabbed 29-year old Zeeshan Akbar of Pakistani descent and Zeeshan soon died at the scene. Three other men were also attacked and injured at the scene. The 16-year old’s mother had told police that she believed that her son had been radicalised in recent weeks and that he sympathised with Islamic State and had also posted concerning posts on Facebook.

    2017 Brighton siege – Yacqub Khayre shot dead a Chinese-Australian receptionist in a serviced apartment complex and took a prostitute hostage in Brighton, Victoria. Police officers were involved in gunfight with Khayre who was shot dead and three officers wounded. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described the incident as terrorism, however Victoria Police warned that there was no evidence to suggest he was acting on orders given from overseas. Khayre had previously been charged in relation to the Holsworthy Barracks terror plot but was acquitted in trial. He had recently been released on parole.

    9 February 2018 Momena Shoma, a Bangladeshi national, stabbed a 56-year-old man in the neck while he was asleep at his Callistemon Rise home in Mill Park, Victoria.[19] She has been charged with engaging in a terrorist act and it’s alleged she was inspired by terror group Islamic State.[20]

    2018 Melbourne stabbing attack Somali immigrant stabs 3 individuals, 1 deceased. Attacked police in Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD before being shot and killed by Victorian Police.

  7. Hmm seem to remember reading a book and watching a movie Smiths Dream/ Sleeping Dogs with a plot not to dis-similar to what Is being alluded to here.

  8. Does not bode well as NZ migrants seemingly have drug and mental health issues and inability to stay within NZ laws are encouraged to settle in NZ while any acts of aggression towards others is minimised in our courts – sounds like a time bomb for many more lone wolf attacks here!

    Tarrent understandably got the big headlines, but there seems to be a plethora of harmful behaviour towards others which is tolerated, minimised and rewarded in NZ. Is that really the type of society we want to settle in NZ?

    Seems like living in NZ and offending here, including killing others or fraudulent behaviour to allow others to kill others, is ‘a bit of a joke, best mocked during social media posts’.

    ‘Jail’ fame singer faces deportation for his role in cash for licences scam

    Family of Auckland hit and run victim Nathan Kraatskow want driver’s sentence appealed

    Man who stabbed stepfather given NZ residence because he has a mental illness

    Child abuser wins right to stay in New Zealand for humanitarian reasons

    Child abuse dad avoids deportation on humanitarian grounds to stay with family

    Iain Lees-Galloway chose ‘lazy’ option granting residency to drink-driver – Simon Bridges

    New resident convicted of sex offending twice, won’t be deported

    Judge’s difficult sentencing of a former refugee who won’t stop offending

    Rapist wins case to be allowed to stay in NZ

    Drink-driver who overstayed for 19 years dodges deportation due to wife’s depression

    Man allowed to stay in New Zealand after conning people out of thousands of dollars

    • A slow hand clap for your list of cases.

      Of course the list is meaningless unless you can back it up with (at very least statistical) evidence that these behaviours are more prevalent amongst the communities you seek to malign than amongst the general population.

  9. Empathy is apparently learned? If this is the case then expect many more Tarrants in NZ because the increasing lack of empathy shown by the ma and pa investors shows us NZ is an empathetic void.

  10. The other thing to acknowledge is that terrorism has become big business, devoid from justice.

    When September 11 occurred it set of a plethora of war action to Afghanistan and Iraq, apparently costing trillions of dollars to the US that probably benefited certain interests the most, aka oil industry. It seemed to increase terrorism not stop it.

    The downfall of Britain and Brexit and the inability of international law to work, was initiated when Tony Blair allowed the UK to enter that war and Labour got bogged down with identity politics for the next decades (Jeremy Corbyn is a anti semite) while Rome burned and China took over their nuclear power and arguably Russian led propoganda helped Brexit create a divided EU .

    Most of the terrorists from September 11 were from Saudi Arabia but they remained allies to the US. Saudi Arabia also managed to assassinate Jamal Khashoggi, and also seem to have gotten away with that too. https://www.dw.com/en/us-intelligence-blames-saudi-prince-for-khashoggi-murder/a-56709047

    Government’s prevention of terrorism or their ability to combat propaganda (which in many cases is coming from the politicians budgets and big business) does not seem allied to justice outcomes, but the opposite.

    • ‘Most of the terrorists from September 11 were from Saudi Arabia’

      If you dig a little deeper you will discover that the actual ‘terrorists’ were American -Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, Wolfowitz, Silverstein etc., and that the Saudis were just patsies.

      Afghanistan had nothing to do with any of it, but was on ‘the list for regime change’ generated by the project ‘New American Century’ for other reasons.

      The cosy relationship between the US Saudi Arabia (arms for oil) that had existed for decades turned a bit sour when the Saudis tried to knock out the US fracking sector by flooding the market with cheap-to-extract oil.

      That said, Saudi Arabia can still do much as it pleases -beheadings, jailing of journalists, repression of women, proxy wars etc. without anyone in the West even batting an eyelid.

      Funny how oil -and inanimate substance- talks so loudly.

  11. HMMMMM, as a fly on the wall in the junior army officers’ mess, it’s likely you’d have heard one say, “Well, look chaps – what we’re discussing is bloody serious and, so, wouldn’t it be simpler to just “pop” the son of a bitch, make it look natural. and see if the problem dies with him.” And lo and behold, that’s what happened, even though, if memory serves, a lone Gordon Dryden expressed some misgivings at the time. And then, holding onto that thought, when you add in the two or three charismatic leaders and thinkers we’ve lost “prematurely” since, who, had they lived, could have made a real difference, you begin to think. yes, maybe somebody should write a book. But, before you pick up the pen, forget “Sleeping Dogs” and think “House of Cards.”

  12. I’m tired of the “lone wolf” argument. He was a lone wolf in that he acted alone.


    This whole approach to political terrorism is modus operandi for the far right.

    The whole royal commission was absolute horse shit in covering his movements in Europe. Some of the countries he visited are ruled by right governments who actively support far right wing groups and terrorism (looking at you Serbia) so they are not exactly going to tell a left liberal government in the south pacific jack. Many of the other states are just hopeless, and couldn’t help even if they wanted to. He visited countries with strong well organized far right terrorist groups.

    They know what works – lone wolf terrorism, they know this will drum up support in liberal countries. Did he have training whilst overseas, probably not in specifics of caring out the act. But did he get the modus operandi spelt out loud and clear.

    As for the state being in the hands of authoritarian nuts willing to crush average folks at the drop of a hat – what rock have you been living under to think otherwise.

  13. If we could read the manifesto we would probably conclude that the Christchurch shooter is left wing.

      • In our current age of intellectual dishonesty facts are subjective. I appreciate the response and food for thought.

  14. In a mature democracy, like Norway or New Zealand, it is difficult to conceive of any other kind of terrorism except Lone Wolf terrorism. In the absence of deliberate violent oppression, of the sort currently on display in Myanmar, the chances of any ideological current forging a military unit of sufficient fanaticism and operational coherence to carry out a deadly terrorist attack are vanishingly small.

  15. “Only a government with both the numbers and the will to openly challenge the capitalist system could summon forth such a movement”.

    A reaction to the capitulation to Maori grievance/ethno nationalist demands would be a more likely scenario erhaps.

  16. I have a simple mind therefore I must keep things simple.
    We’re tennants for tomorrows invasive landlord species. That’s all we AO/NZ’ers are. We keep Ark AO/NZ to use @ MB’s turn of phrase, ticking along and when temperatures start to head beyond 50c around the equator they’ll arrive in, increasing numbers and then we’re fucked.
    We have an enviably highly arable land area larger than the UK with massive fresh water lake systems and there’s only 5 million of us, we’re thousands of K’s from sco mo’s ugly Australia and our only biosphere’s in a climate heating free fall.
    Of course there will be hostile forces at work here. Of course they’ll be desperately trying to maintain a mind-dulling status quo. Of course there will be deviant machinations. A wilting bedding plant could work that out.
    Have you not noticed the fascists having a go at the Crown of late? Say what you like but the Crown is our sovereign state. Not, for example, The United States of McDon-O-trump. ( Aroha mai @ Maori. )
    In what will seem like an hysterical opinion, and a word on that, I don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks, we should take advantage of a timely virus to shut down our borders and keep them shut until at least four British aircraft carriers with associated ordinance and air support arrives here.
    Unless, of course, they find that the Suez Canal’s bunged up again. A gust of wind blew a 400 meter long, 200,000 metric ton container ship into a sand bank, my fat hairy arse. Not even a fart out of Big Jizz Brownlee after a diet of beer, broad beans and Brussels Sprouts could have done that. I think it was, in some way, a training exercise and in some way, I think it involves us.
    I’ve just read that and it does sound a bit potty really doesn’t it? But then if we didn’t have actual conspiracies we wouldn’t need the SIS and the SAS etc or the associated theories that must come with them.

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