Saturday, November 27

LynnMall terrorist named after crackdown orders expire

The man responsible for the Friday afternoon terror attack on a supermarket in western Auckland may now be called Ahamed Aathill Mohamed Samsudeen.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 3: Police guard the area around Countdown LynnMall after a violent extremist unleashed a terrorist attack by stabbing six people before being shot by police on September 3, 2021 in Auckland.

A police officer stands guard outside the Countdown supermarket after the attack.
Photo: Getty Images 2021

The 32-year-old Sri Lankan national was shot and killed by police after stabbing six people inside Countdown LynnMall. A seventh person was also injured in the attack.

Suppression orders have prevented details of his identity and background from being made public.

They have now expired and it can be revealed that immigration authorities were seeking to have Samsudeen’s refugee status revoked.

He arrived in New Zealand in October 2011 on a student visa and was granted refugee status in December 2013.

But nearly five years later, Samsudeen was told that plans to cancel it were underway, which he appealed.

In the intervening years, Samsudeen had drawn the attention of the police for his extremist, violent and pro-Islamic State views.

He received a formal warning in 2016 for posting extremist content online and in 2017 he was arrested at Auckland Airport, when he was suspected of heading to Syria.

When police searched his apartment, they found a large hunting knife under the mattress on the floor and secure digital cards containing fundamentalist material, including propaganda videos and photos of the man posing with a firearm.

He ended up pleading guilty to distributing restricted publications and was sentenced for that crime in September 2018 to supervision.

But in August 2018, while he was out on bail awaiting sentencing, he was arrested again after he bought another hunting knife.

A second search also found a large amount of violent material from Isis.

In May this year, a jury found him guilty of two counts of possession of IS propaganda promoting terrorism and one count of breach of registration.

He was acquitted of a third count of possession of objectionable material and one count of possession of a knife in a public place.

After spending three years in pre-trial detention, Samsudeen was sentenced in July to 12 months of supervision.

Suppression orders

Samsudeen received the name suppression by Judge Wylie in Superior Court in July 2018.

At that stage, their refugee status was uncertain and the suppression order would remain in effect until determined.

Judge Wylie said that at the time the order was issued, there was a risk that if he were deported to Sri Lanka, his safety would be in jeopardy.

As it stands, Samsudeen’s appeal of the notice of intent to cancel his refugee status has not been completed.

But on Friday night, the Crown filed an urgent request in Superior Court for the suppression orders to be lifted.

In a decision late Friday night, the removal of Samsudeen’s name was reversed.

But Judge Wylie gave his attorneys an additional 24 hours to communicate with his family about whether they wanted to request new suppression orders.

Following a second hearing on Saturday afternoon, Judge Wylie ruled that details about Samsudeen’s immigration status and the reasons for his refugee status application can be made public.

Generally, by law, the fact that someone is applying for refugee status, and the reasons for it, must be kept confidential if it identifies them or endangers their safety.

Judge Wylie concluded that those obligations no longer apply.

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