Saturday, November 27

Terrorist in Auckland supermarket: government tried unsuccessfully to strip him of refugee status

The government spent more than four years trying to deport the man responsible for the terrorist attack on the West Auckland supermarket.

03092021 PHOTO: ROBERT KITCHIN / STUFF LR: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Police Commissioner Andrew Coster hold a press conference with details of the Auckland supermarket terror attack at the Beehive Theater on Friday evening.

Jacinda Ardern asked questions about Samsudeen’s refugee status and deportation options in May 2018.
Photo: POOL / Things / Robert Kitchin

But repeated attempts to have him stripped of his refugee status were ultimately unsuccessful, crippled by what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called a “frustrating process.”

Last night, the suppression orders that prevented the publication of details about the identity, background and immigration status of the terrorist expired.

He can now be named as Ahamed Aathill Mohamed Samsudeen, a 32-year-old Sri Lankan citizen.

It can also be revealed that immigration authorities were trying to revoke his refugee status, because it was believed to have been obtained fraudulently.

But Samsudeen himself had claimed in court that he could be arrested, detained, ill-treated or tortured if he was ever sent back to Sri Lanka.

The terrorist’s refugee status

Samsudeen was a Tamil Muslim. He left Sri Lanka and arrived in New Zealand on a student visa in 2011.

He applied for refugee status, saying that he and his father experienced serious problems with the Sri Lankan authorities due to their political backgrounds.

His initial application was rejected in 2012, because Immigration New Zealand found that his claim lacked credibility.

An appeal was filed and Samsudeen was recognized as a refugee by the Immigration and Protection Court in December 2013.

But in May 2018 he was notified that the authorities wanted to revoke his refugee status, which would mean that he would be deported.

Samsudeen appealed again.

It was already on the radar of the police and the Security Intelligence Service – [

he had received a formal warning in 2016] for posting violent, extremist and pro-Islamic State content online.

Ardern said it was in the course of those investigations that New Zealand Immigration learned of information that led them to believe that Samsudeen’s refugee status was obtained fraudulently.

At the time he was notified of the intention to revoke his refugee status, Samsudeen was in court.

He was arrested in 2017 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.

Samsudeen ended up pleading guilty to distributing restricted postings and was sentenced for that offense in September 2018 to supervision.

In July 2018, Judge Wylie had granted the name suppression.

In his decision on the matter, Judge Wylie said that Samsudeen said that “he has been attacked, kidnapped and tortured, that he went into hiding in response to these incidents and that he came to New Zealand in 2011 to seek refugee status.”

Samsudeen told the court: “I am very afraid to go back to Sri Lanka because I am afraid of the authorities there and of the same risks and fears. [that] I had when I left my country are still there in Sri Lanka.

“Young Tamils ​​also face many serious problems in Sri Lanka from the authorities. We face arrests, detentions, ill-treatment and torture as we are always under suspicion from the authorities due to the [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam]. “

Judge Wylie said there was a “real and appreciable chance” that if Samsudeen had his refugee status revoked and was deported, his safety could be in jeopardy.

The participation of the highest levels of government

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asked questions about Samsudeen’s refugee status and deportation options in May 2018. She gave a press conference yesterday that provided some more details about the man’s situation.

In February 2019, Immigration New Zealand canceled their refugee status and received notices of responsibility for deportation.

But in April 2019, he appealed the decision to the Immigration Protection Court.

At the time, he was in pretrial detention, awaiting a trial in Superior Court on a second set of charges related to a crime committed while on bail for the first set of charges in August 2018.

He had been arrested after purchasing another hunting knife and a second search of his room found a large amount of violent material from Isis.

Samsudeen’s appeal against his deportation could not continue until the conclusion of those court proceedings.

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.

Meanwhile, Ardern said agencies were concerned about the risk Samsudeen posed to the community.

“They also knew that he could be released from prison and that his appeal to the court, which was stopping his deportation, could take some time.”

Immigration New Zealand discussed whether the law would allow them to detain Samsudeen while his deportation appeal was being heard.

“It was incredibly disappointing and frustrating when legal advice came back to say that this was not an option,” Ardern said.

As soon as he was released from prison, the exhaustive surveillance and monitoring of Samsudeen by the police began.

On August 26, Samsudeen’s hearing in Immigration and Protection Court was rescheduled.

At the time of the terrorist attack, the question of whether or not he could be deported was unresolved.

“This has been a frustrating process,” Ardern said.

“Since 2018, ministers have been seeking advice on our ability to deport this person.”

Ardern said in July this year that he met with officials in person and expressed concern that the law could allow someone to stay here, that they obtained their immigration status fraudulently and posed a threat to national security.

“I asked for work to be carried out to see if we should amend our law, in the context of our international obligations,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *