New Zealand tried to deport supermarket
September 06 2021 12:33 AM
Jacinda Ardern
(File photo) Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Guardian News and Media/ Auckland

New Zealand had tried for years to deport the terrorist who stabbed shoppers in an Auckland supermarket on Friday before being shot dead by the police officers tasked with watching him, the country’s prime minister has said.
Ahamed Aathil Mohamed Samsudeen, a 32-year-old Sri Lankan man, was fighting to keep his refugee status in New Zealand when he carried out the attack, which Jacinda Ardern said was inspired by the Islamic State.
Neither his name nor the fact that he was a refugee could be reported until a suppression order by a New Zealand judge was lifted late on Saturday night.
The identity of refugees, and their immigration status, are automatically protected by law in New Zealand.
Officials had tried to justify detaining Samsudeen in jail until his asylum case was resolved but there were no legal grounds for doing so. Instead, 30 officers watched him around the clock for more than 50 days before he grabbed a knife from a supermarket shelf and attacked shoppers, metres away from the undercover police surveilling him.
Seven people were hurt in the attack, five of them with stab wounds. Three of those injured were in a critical condition in hospital on Saturday.
The attack rattled New Zealand, which until Friday had not experienced an Islamic State-inspired act of terror, with the nation’s grief echoing the aftermath of the 2019 terrorist attacks on two Christchurch mosques, when 51 Muslims were murdered by a white supremacist from Australia.
Friday’s attack provoked fresh debate about a proposed law change currently before parliament that would make the act of planning a terrorist attack a crime – a legal gap identified after the Christchurch shooting.
Samsudeen arrived in New Zealand in October 2011, aged 22, on a student visa.
Shortly after arriving he made a claim for refugee status.
Immigration New Zealand declined this claim in 2012, but he appealed to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal and was successful.
He was granted refugee status in December 2013.
In 2016 he caught the attention of the police and the Security Intelligence Service after talking sympathetically on Facebook about terrorist attacks, violent war-related videos and comments advocating violence extremism, and he was spoken to by police. In May 2017, Samsudeen was arrested at Auckland International airport.
Police believed he was heading to Syria, and a search of his apartment found Islamic State propaganda, and a hunting knife.
He was released on bail, but in August 2018 – while on bail — bought a knife and police arrested him again, and found further extremist material.
Authorities had known Samsudeen wanted to commit a terrorist attack, but planning one is not a crime in New Zealand.
Ardern said her government had asked the passage of a controversial new antiterrorism law to be sped up on the same day the mass stabbing took place, and she hoped it will pass by the end of the month. By 2020, he had already been detained for three years.
He was found guilty of the charges for IS propaganda, and sentenced in July 2021 to a year’s supervision, with a series of conditions that restricted him from Internet devices.
Back in February 2019, Samsudeen’s refugee status was cancelled and he was served with deportation liability notices.
Ardern added that his refugee claim had been based on a fraudulent document, although she did not elaborate further.
He appealed against his deportation to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.
He was still in prison at this time, and facing criminal charges.
The deportation appeal could not proceed until after the conclusion of the criminal trial in May 2021
“In the meantime, agencies were concerned about the risk this individual posed to the community. They also knew he may be released from prison, and that his appeal through the tribunal, which was stopping his deportation, may take some time,” Ardern said.
“Immigration New Zealand explored whether the Immigration Act might allow them to detain the individual while his deportation appeal was heard. It was incredibly disappointing and frustrating when legal advice came back to say this wasn’t an option.” A person can only be detained under the Immigration Act for the purpose of deportation.
Immigration New Zealand was required to consider whether deportation was likely to proceed but crown law’s advice was that the individual was likely to be considered a “protected person” because of the status of the country from which he had travelled, and likely treatment on return.

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