An imam who saved several lives during the New Zealand terror attack has spoken out about the massacre.
Imam Alabi Lateef Zirullah was at the Linwood mosque in Christchurch on March 15, when suspected gunman Brenton Tarrant opened fire on worshippers killing at least seven people.
Attacking the Al Noor mosque beforehand, at least 42 died there in the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s history.
On Linwood Avenue, worshippers were about to drop to the floor for the second part of the prayer service, when Zirullah spotted the alleged gunman.
Hearing gunfire outside, Zirullah shouted ‘go down’, warning people to take cover.
Breaking his silence for the first time since the attack, Zirullah described the events to the New Zealand Herald.
Awn there are still some good people left in this world
This this blood soaked imam by name Alabi lateef Zirullah has been identified as the hero of the #NewZealandTerroristAttack
He had to put his own life on the line to stop the shooter from killing more people 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/XYwUlwoz21
— Chidera Ugwuanyi (the digital freak) (@Digitalfreakm) March 17, 2019
When I saw those Muslims shot dead I just told our brothers, ‘Go down! Go down! Somebody has just shot our brothers outside the masjid.
No one listened to me until unfortunately he came from behind and he shot one of our brothers [in] the head through the window. He saw him standing and shot him [through] the window. When glass got broken and the brother fell down, everyone realised to go down.
The imam rushed outside with fellow worshipper Abdul Aziz, who picked up a credit card machine on his way.
Aziz told the publication he threw the machine at the gunman, who was running back to his car to get another weapon.
The terrorist responded by firing at Aziz, who ran through a sea of parked cars to escape the bullets, picking up a discarded gun.
Squeezing the trigger, Aziz realised it was empty so hurled it at the gunman’s car.
Jumping into his vehicle, the terrorist made a U-turn and sped away.
Ziruallah, who had locked the main door of the mosque to keep those inside safe, then called the emergency services, also doing his best to help those wounded.
He added he had been prepared to die to save his people:
I can’t believe… I thought I’d be gone. I was ready to die because I felt for the brothers.
The imam concluded by saying he is in a state of shock, and that the shooter is a criminal who deserves the highest punishment New Zealand law allows.
Our thoughts are with all those affected by the terror attack.
If you’re concerned and need to contact a friend or relative please visit the International Committee of the Red Cross, who have set up a website by which you can restore links and register your own safety.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.