Armenian Writing Found on New Zealand Shooter’s Rifles

Shooter’s rifle cites historic battle between Ottoman and Russian forces

This photo of ammunition cartridges with Armenian and Georgian inscriptions was posted by the alleged gunman on his Twitter feed and has since been circulating on social media.

YEREVAN—The rifle magazine of the gunman who is accused of killing 50 people at a New Zealand mosque last week had Armenian writing on it, according to pictures posted on the shooter’s (now deleted) Twitter account. The markings, written in Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian and Georgian scripts, included references to historical battles between Muslim empires and Christian or European states. Also included were the names of historical figures revered for their resistance against Ottoman or Muslim invasions. There were also white-nationalist symbols and the names of other convicted terrorists.

Brenton Tarrant, the Australian national currently in custody for what authorities are calling “the worst terrorist attack in New Zealand history” apparently marked “Battle of Sarikamish” (Սարիղամիշի ճակատամարտ) in white Armenian letters on his STANAG magazines.

The inscription references the World War I battle which resulted in a decisive victory for the Russian Empire over Ottoman forces in Anatolia. Hoping to avoid responsibility for the defeat, Enver Pasha, Minister of War and one of the infamous “Three Pashas” leading the Ottoman Empire at the time, deflected blame to the Armenian population. Enver would justify his calls to eliminate the Empire’s Armenian population by pointing to the fact that several hundred ethnic Armenians had joined the Russian Army of the Caucasus (though most were Russian, not Ottoman citizens). The Battle of Sarikamish is remembered in Armenia as the prelude for the Armenian Genocide, which would enter its most violent phase a few months later. Another inscription invoked the Battle of Sardarabad, where Armenian forces managed to hold off an Ottoman invasion force in May of 1918.

The accused gunman also inscribed the names of Georgian, Serbian and Bulgarian leaders in their own national alphabets. Turkey’s President Erdogan has used some footage from the massacre to radicalize his supporters during a mass rally in Turkey.

Pictures depicting rifle magazines emblazoned with the names of David the Builder and David Soslani, two historical Georgian monarchs, made headlines in neighboring Georgia. The country has been contending with the rise of ultra-nationalist groups in recent years as well as concerns over homegrown Islamic extremism.

As information over the accused terrorist’s travels across Eastern Europe and ties with extremist groups in the region were made public, the Georgian Intelligence Service announced an investigation into his possible connections with Georgia.

By contrast, the National Security Service (NSS) in Armenia has yet to release a statement over concerns that the accused gunman may have visited the country. The NSS has also not responded to the Armenian Weekly’s request for comment at the time this article goes to print.

Anna Naghdalyan, the spokeswoman for the Armenian Foreign Ministry told reporters that “[Armenian authorities] are in contact with New Zealand’s relevant authorities on all issues linked with the incident,” but did not add any details.

The Armenian National Committee of New Zealand, for its part, released a statement denouncing, in no uncertain terms, the terrorist act, while offering condolences to the families of the victims. Regarding the inscription, their statement read “we condemn the accused gunman’s attempt to reference the Armenian language, along with the languages of other Christian nationalities – including Georgian, Serbian, Russian and Austrian – through markings on his weapons used in what was an unacceptable hate crime targeting the Islamic community.”

International Armenian organizations including the Aleppo NGO in Armenia, Armenian Community of Hong Kong and China, the AGBU, Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), Nor Zartonk in Istanbul, Organization of Istanbul Armenians and Zoravik Armenian Activist Collective in Boston launched an online petition condemning “the terrorist’s appropriation of Armenian language and history.”

In Armenia, the use of Armenian script on the rifle magazines garnered passing mention in the media, generating little interest apart from the general sense of abhorrence over the attack itself.


Editor’s note 03/23/19: An earlier version of this articles stated that the photos were released by the ChristChurch police department, this was corrected to show that the photos were released by the shooter himself, and reported on by international news outlets


Raffi Elliott

Columnist & Armenia Correspondent
Raffi Elliott is a Canadian-Armenian political risk analyst and journalist based in Yerevan, Armenia. A former correspondent and columnist for the Armenian Weekly, his focus is socioeconomic, political, business and diplomatic issues in Armenia.


  1. Dear Raffi, I read all your articles with great pleasure. However the current article is controversial and should have waited. Remember, Erdogan is waiting for any reason to attack the western values.

    • Hagop, this is the news -> it’s usually reported on as soon as it happens. The article isn’t taking any position or stance, just covering a story with relevance to the international Armenian community.

      I don’t see a problem here


  2. In the Name of GOD our Lord JESUS CHRIST! Condolences to the families of the dead may GOD look over them and give them salvation.
    EVERY DAY Christians are persecuted, martyred, slain, raped, devoured, and dismembered and so on! Yet the world lacks the will to utter these words when it comes to the people of CHRIST. look at the Filthy DOG ERDOGAN who rallies his pigs to follow him and slain ANZACS if they disobey and threaten them by sending them back to Australia in coffins , what Monster would speak like this not even a hungry dog covered in flees would even think this way yet the World SO BLIND allows these words to go unanswered . People of the WORLD WAKE THE $#@$ UP march and ENFORCE YOUR GOVERNMENTS to once and for all shut this tyrant down and if they do not yield then GOD FORGIVE THEM TO WHAT IS TO COME !

  3. The guy bought the gun from a gun dealer,it can be used or new .He buy the gun leagaly with a permit and licance by The NZ government.So what?

    • I’ve never heard of Soros exploiting anything. He’s spent his career supporting democracy. He’s also spoken up for the Palestinians. It’s for precisely this reason that both Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu hate him.

  4. Don’t you think that this photo is exactly what the perpetrator(s) of the crime would like to see as many places as possible, including news outlets and social media? In other words, don’t you think that what you’re doing is doing exactly what THEY want? WHY? Do you really think this is “the” NEWS?

  5. Don’t you think that this photo is exactly what the perpetrator(s) of the crime would like to see at as many places as possible, including news outlets and social media? In other words, don’t you think that what you’re doing is doing exactly what THEY want? WHY? Do you really think this is “the” NEWS?

  6. Thanks for covering this! It’s disturbing that White Power vigilantes, including the New Zealand shooter, are using Armenian history as part of their warped Crusader ideology.

    • The irony is that these thugs would almost certainly kill any Armenian, considering them “not really white”. Hell, for centuries the English didn’t consider the Irish “white”.

  7. As a bi-racial American (Armenian and German parents) this was news to me. I’m glad I know it. I’m not glad about what happened. I also do understand those who don’t want the terrorist’s message to get spread around. This seemed like an appropriate outlet however and very relevant global topic. This weekly must remain relevant in that regard. We also have a responsibility to own our collective histories.

  8. This is nothing short of provocation. Who knows what this guy’s motives were. I wouldn’t just believe the news. Got to dig deeper. Every effort is made and cleverly put together to clash nations and to cause chaos. The chaos will require some form of control. Ask Soros for answers.

    • These scumbags will look for anything that they can hold up as representative of white Christian triumph. I’d like the see the creep have to spend the rest of his life having to listen to Muslim prayers.

    • Actually, Germany’s former Nazi party did not view the Armenians as being “White.”

    • You sound like my dad. Pakistanis and Persians are white too right. Use definitions that are relevant today. Ask Alex Minnassian if those white Canadians considered him one of their own as he was taunted to insanity.

      Just watch the eyes of those German tourists glare at my son after they notice my pretty white wife standing next to her dark skinned high testosterone armo husband.

    • Why would those German tourists glare at your son? Just because you were with a White woman? They probably thought that you were Jewish.

      On the other hand, some time ago, while I was hanging out with my girlfriend over at our favorite park (Lovers’ Park), we were approached by three French lesbian tourists, who were deeply attracted to my girlfriend (and were especially turned on by her “Armenian” tattoo). Anyway, we invited them out to dinner and then we gave them a little tour of Yerevan. It’s amazing how much love the French have for Armenian culture.

      On the subject of Alek Minassian, what he did back in April of 2018, had nothing to do with whether he was or was not considered “White” by the Canadian White folks. It’s actually been suggested that perhaps a lack of sexual activity may have contributed to the horror that he was involved in, almost a year ago.

  9. I’m disappointed in The Weekly for publishing this article. There are no facts contained therein except for a photograph, and yet the author has pieced together various bits of unrelated information in order to lead the reader down a path. What has happened to editorial standards here?

  10. Well, it seems, if Turkish TV or Azerbaijani TV (or let’s assume, the president of Turkey) says “Hey folks, look, there are Armenian writings on the rifle of the shooter”, that would be considered as HATE SPEECH; but when some Armenians share this photo it’s just “the journey of truth” and nothing more? Oh, really? By sharing these photos AND/OR making “news” out of it, YOU are doing what the terrorist(s) want. Is it really so hard to get, people? THIS IS NOT NEWS!

  11. Who knows what this guys motives were? His motives are very clear if you read his manifesto. He wanted to spark a war between the white race (christian or otherwise) against Islam. He saw the massive birthrates of Muslims in the West as an existential threat. I’ve heard Armenians say the same thing about letting Azeri Muslims return to Artsakh.

  12. Yerevanian, I went to Artsakh a few months ago. But even if I hadn’t, what would that prove?
    When Artsakh’s war of liberation broke out, Azerbaijanis were 30 percent of the population of the NKR. If you are glad that they are gone, then your reasoning is the same as those who support the shooter. Even if you support complete independence for the Armenian people, shouldn’t those former residents be allowed to return to their homes in peace? If not, why not? The Armenians who talked to me about the birthrate thing weren’t actually from Artsakh. They were an diaspora couple who were born in Lebanon but lived in the US.
    Second of all, if you read the shooters manifesto he specifically mentions white Muslims and says that European Muslims who convert to Islam are the lowest of the low.

    • No, contrary to the shooter’s manifesto, there happen to be many White Europeans who are Muslims.

      And when Artsakh’s War of Liberation broke out, the Azerbaijanis constituted no more than 22 percent of Artsakh’s total population.

      “If you are glad that they are gone, then your reasoning is the same as those who support the shooter.”

      Again, a very foolish statement without the slightest bit of logic. What do my feelings towards the former Azerbaijani residents of Artsakh have to do with that White Supremacist who entered a mosque and killed fifty Muslims?

      Anyway, yes, I’m glad that the former Azerbaijani residents of Artsakh are gone. Azerbaijanis do not belong on Armenian lands. Furthermore, these former Azerbaijani residents of Artsakh returned safely back to Azerbaijan where they belong.

      Instead of showing love towards the Azerbaijanis, why are you not showing love towards the former Armenian population of Azerbaijan (which numbered over four hundred thousand) who barely escaped being slaughtered into pieces. Why are you not shouting that the former Armenian population of Azerbaijan should be allowed to return to their homes in peace?

    • It is quite shocking for me to read such remarks from an Armenian about racist Azerbaijanis. These people have no business living among Armenians and on liberated Armenian lands in particular. Throughout the Turkish and Azerbaijani histories, BTW both artificially invented on occupied Armenian lands, the native Armenians were massacred and Turkic people from other parts of the region, such as the northern Caucasus, were transplanted in their places. The large number of Circassians from northern Caucasus living in Turkey are an example of such anti-Armenian racist and genocidal Turkish actions. These people were mostly used as Turkish royal guards and conscripted into the Ottoman army and involved in battles and other criminal activities. In artificial Azerbaijan anti-Armenian policies were put in place to force Armenians out in order to depopulate 50% Armenian population from Nakh-Ijevan Autonomous republic (one of the ancient occupied Armenian provinces) to accomplish the full Turkification of the region. By 1979 there were no Armenians left in Nakh-Ijevan. They started the same policies in Artsakh, falsely known as Nagorno-Karabakh, and slowly but surely the 95% Armenian population in 1921 was reduced to 75% in Artsakh by 1988. Slowly but surely, what happened to Armenians in Nakh-Ijevan was happening in Artsakh. Fortunately, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 gave Armenians the opportunity to not only put an end to this but to liberate this territory from enemy occupation. All these anti-Armenian activities were part of fascist pan-Turkic and pan-Turanic agenda which called for the complete destruction of the Armenian state and the Armenians themselves. If I had the power I would completely clean out every single inch of Armenian territory from the Turks. They have no business living among us!

  13. “What do my feelings towards the former Azerbaijani residents of Artsakh have to do with that White Supremacist who entered a mosque and killed fifty Muslims?”
    Because your reasoning is the same. These are not Muslims lands, these are the lands of white men. These are not Azeri lands, these are Armenian lands.
    It is the exact same logic.

    “No, contrary to the shooter’s manifesto, there happen to be many White Europeans who are Muslims.”
    You didn’t read the manifesto. He acknowledges the existence of white muslims, but he says they are the lowest of the low. “lowest of the low” means they are worthless people, even worse than regular Muslims.
    Please read the comment more carefully.

    • Again, you are without the slightest bit of logic. I never spoke about going out and killing fifty Azerbaijanis. What I precisely stated, was that “Azerbaijanis do not belong on Armenian lands”. In what particular way does that run parallel with entering a mosque and shooting to death fifty Muslims? Furthermore, there’s no such thing as “Muslim lands”, or the “lands of White men”.

      And, what difference does it make whether your beloved White supremacist shooter says that White Muslims are the “lowest of the low”, or the “highest of the high”? Either way, that particular group of Whites are still Muslims.

  14. I have to reply to Yerevanian’s comment about Nazi Germany and “whiteness”. The Germans in the high Nazi circles did not use the term “white”. The Serbs, Belorussians, Ukrainians, and Russians were persecuted by the Germans without mercy, yet they are technically European. The Armenians during the war were not persecuted like Jews, because of both Persians and Armenians being classified as “Aryans”. Despite Hitler’s dislike of anything Non-Germanic, there were allies of convenience, such as the Arabs.

    So no, you are incorrect when you claim that Hitler did not consider Armenians “White”, because he did not use that term and was not concerned with Armenians in any meaningful way. Stop mindlessly posting just for the sake of responding to someone.

  15. I don’t know where the person with the username “I have the hots for Britt Ekland” gets the idea that Armenians are the victims of random attacks. No, nobody would attack an Armenian for supposedly “not being White” as you claim. Armenians living in the West have never experienced that kind of violence. I understand condemning him for using our oppression to further his twisted and disgusting violence, but don’t pretend we are oppressed in Western countries by any means. It is counterproductive to make things up like that. Besides, most Armenians are classified as White by Blacks and Hispanics, so they don’t share the same opinion as you do.

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