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Imam of Al Noor Mosque claims police dismissed his warnings about suspicious activity

Tuesday May 14, 2019

Linwood Mosque Imam Alabi Lateef Zirullah, left, and Al Noor Mosque Imam Gamal Fouda. Photo / Mark Mitchell /NZ Herald

Police ignored and dismissed concerns over suspicious activity in the lead-up to the Christchurch terror attacks, the Imam of the Al Noor Mosque says.

Gamal Fouda made direct warnings to police about suspicious European visitors but they were quashed by police as "not serious", Newshub reports.

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Christchurch businessman Philip Arps was one of many suspected harassers who tormented worshippers at the mosque.

In 2016, he was filmed delivering boxes of pigs heads and offal to the Al Noor Mosque along with other another man, also performing Nazi salutes at the door.

"White power … Bring on the cull," Arps said in the video and when he went to court he was convicted of offensive behaviour and fined $800.

Three weeks before the March 15 attacks a European man, not the accused gunman, visited the mosque claiming he was interested in learning more.

"He was not focusing with me, and when I asked about his name, he said 'you can call me any name you want'," Fouda told Newshub.

"And I looked at his eyes - and I said 'yes I can call you any name I want but I want your real name'.

"It was very strange. [He] was a very strange person, yes."

The Masjid Al Noor Mosque on Dean's Avenue. Photo / Google

Fouda said he now believes the strange visitor had bad intentions.

He said he raised issues about other European vistors to police in the past but they were ignored.

On one occasion, he warned police about two men who were acting suspiciously around the mosque but police said it wasn't serious.

"We had two people here and they told them they are Muslims as well and these people in the mosque are not Muslims.

"And why do you come to our country? You can go back - one Somali person and a Bangledeshi person - and they swear at them with the 'f' word and we report them to the police," Fouda told Newshub.

The Imam thought the two men might have been radicalised by Islamic State and warned police about the pair but was told it wasn't important.

"I replied to the police and I said 'This is very dangerous ... not only against Muslims, but against New Zealanders. So be careful, check them out' and they said 'No no this is not serious, we have other things to do'," Fouda said.

Earlier this month, a Turkish citizen who was wounded in the attacks died, bringing the death toll from the terror attacks to 51.

The man, who was injured in the Al Noor Mosque during the attacks, had been in a critical condition in Christchurch Hospital since the shootings.

He was one of three Turkish citizens injured in the attacks.

On May 3, nine other people who were shot in the attack remained in hospital, all in a stable condition.

In addition to the 51 killed, a total of around 50 others were injured in the two mosque attacks.

The man accused of the shootings has been charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 charges of attempted murder.

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