ORLANDO, Fla. - Mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, left 49 people dead and 20 more injured Friday. Authorities arrested a man in his late 20s. They said they found a multiple page manifesto filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas.
The American Muslim Leadership Council issued a statement to WFTV Friday morning about the attack.
"We strongly condemn the terror attack against Al Noor mosque in New Zealand and Muslim worshippers, we have NO WORDS to describe such (a) hateful act," Imam Helmi El Agha said.
The AML said in the statement the FBI reached out to its leaders Friday morning to assure them there would be an increase in law enforcement presence following the attack in New Zealand.
The American Muslim Community Center in Longwood, Florida, also issued a statement condemning the terrorist attack in Christchurch.
"Loss of innocent lives is heartbreaking," said Dr. Shakil Ahmed, the chairman of the AMCC. "We ask all our fellow citizens to join us in praying for the victims and the families that were affected by this tragedy."
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Local law enforcement and religious leaders are now working together to be more vigilant following this attack.
If you went by a local mosque Friday, you probably noticed additional police vehicles.
On Friday, local imams preached love and peace during prayers to combat fear and anger within their own community, while simultaneously working with other religious leaders and police to fight terrorism in all of its forms.
Friday prayers are to Muslims what Sunday church service is to Christians.
News spread worldwide that an attacker killed 49 people attending Friday prayers at two New Zealand mosques.
"I was terribly shocked and hurt,” said Iman Tariq Rasheed, with the Islamic Center of Orlando.
As worshippers attended Friday prayer in Kissimmee, a sheriff's deputy sat outside. Most services were about love and the need for peace.
WFTV reporter Cierra Putman spoke to Ted Reynolds, the director of the University of Central Florida's terrorism studies program, about the attack.
Reynolds said this attack is unusual because the attacker paid tribute to other European terrorists and even an American who carried out a massacre at a black church.
"In jihadi circles, yes,” Reynolds said. “They always like to glorify each other, but somebody in that situation, where he's attacking an immigrant population, we haven't really seen them list their heroes, let’s say, in that way. Certainly not in a manifesto."
Reynolds reviewed parts of the attacker's manifesto, in which the Australian called himself a racist, a white nationalist and a fascist.
The professor said he's seen the chatter on social media firsthand and thinks law enforcement agencies should be given more access to watch it more closely.
“There's certain resistance to monitoring those types of communications,” Reynolds said. “Here in the United States especially, but it's something that we need to look at seriously."
Until then, take the mantra "see something, say something" seriously.
"In the scripture, both in the Bible and the Koran, God said that, 'If you save one life, it is as if you've saved all of humanity,’” said Imam Muhammad Musri, with the Islamic Society of Central Florida.
Musri said he believes his campus is better protected than the mosques in New Zealand. He said his staff has worked with police to better monitor who comes on campus and has run safety drills on how to respond in case of an attack.
The OnePulse Foundation tweeted its condolences, writing, "We will stand with you during this darkest time." The OnePulse Foundation is the official nonprofit organization formed after the 2016 terror attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. 49 people, not including shooter Omar Mateen, were killed.
We want the community of #Christchurch to know that Orlando is holding them up today. We will stand with you during this darkest time. There are no comforting words for those who lost their loved ones, but we hope the strength we send helps you. We stand with you in your grief. pic.twitter.com/zsOLw2D8eO— onePULSE Foundation (@onePULSEorg) March 15, 2019
Scroll to see more reaction from Florida leaders:
Although we are separated by oceans, we stand united with the people of New Zealand and send our condolences to the #Christchurch community. We grieve for the lives lost and are heartbroken for the families affected by this horrific act of violence. #ChristchurchMosqueAttack https://t.co/uZxd8VBurv— Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings (@OCFLMayor) March 15, 2019
We are saddened by the tragedy that occurred in #Christchurch. Our community stands united with New Zealand. If you need support during this time, please contact the Orlando United Assistance Center by calling (407) 500-4673. https://t.co/aM0O39Oldn— Orange County FL (@OrangeCoFL) March 15, 2019
Devastated to hear of the shooting at 2 mosques in #NewZealand. This act of hate towards the Muslim community will not be tolerated. Florida & the United States stand against this evil. Ann and I are praying today for the victims and their families. https://t.co/vS6woD4z3X— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) March 15, 2019
My heart breaks for New Zealand, esp. the Muslim community targeted by this vicious attack. We must stop the rise of Islamophobia around the globe & denounce racism targeted at our Muslim brothers & sisters. From one community shaken by gun violence to another: we stand with you. https://t.co/FfPCHG3Wpj— Rep. Stephanie Murphy (@RepStephMurphy) March 15, 2019
If you are experiencing difficulties during this time, please know that you can contact the Orlando United Assistance Center for support by calling 407.500.4673 (HOPE). https://t.co/kekoAQSrrZ— City of Orlando (@citybeautiful) March 15, 2019
Just terrible to see. Our community sadly knows what it’s like to experience something like this and sends our support to Christchurch. https://t.co/1SDl8AFVt9— Mayor Buddy Dyer (@orlandomayor) March 15, 2019
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