A quiet west Auckland street lined with factories, workshops and a few houses was the home of LynnMall supermarket terrorist Ahamed Aathill Mohamed Samsudeen.
Since July he had lived in a small apartment attached to the Masjid-e-Bilal prayer center on the road.
But the people who lived and worked there did not know him. Even the close Muslim family had never met him.
RNZ reporter Chen Liu says the street is eerie.
“There is a mental health facility at one end, a wooden storage unit at the other, and in between a plastic recycling site, many factories and fenced houses.”
From prison, Samsudeen went to live on this quiet street, in the same building as the men-only prayer center – the refugee damaged by a traumatic upbringing.
No money, no help
“I had problems with belonging and attachment, I was ostracized and clinically depressed and I didn’t have a lot of confidence,” says Canberra criminologist Dr. Clarke Jones.
Jones was called in to evaluate Samsudeen and offered to design a rehabilitation program for him, but says it was not implemented because there was no funding and the police did not feel like doing it.
As more details about the case emerge, anger and frustration mount over the way Corrections and the police handled his release.
The Muslim Association says that it should not have stayed in the small Islamic community that did not have the capacity or capacity to support it.
Corrections has defended its handling of Samsudeen and outlined the actions it took.
Other counter-terrorism experts have said The detail de-radicalization or rehabilitation would have been difficult because he was unwilling.
So what is a rehab program and what does it take to successfully de-radicalize an individual?
“The arrangements you put around a person create a support network so they don’t slip through the cracks,” says Jones.
There has to be responsibility, moments in which support is intensified, a psychiatrist is involved, there may be medications and the participation of the police in extreme cases is very important.
“But you don’t want the police to be at the forefront of the intervention. The programs where there is coercion are not so effective ”.
It’s all built on trust, Jones says.
His work at the Australian National University School of Psychology Research covers violent extremism, terrorism, radicalization, prison radicalization, community-led youth interventions, correctional reform and gangs.
He has co-designed intervention programs in Australian Muslim communities and is advising correctional facilities in the Philippines on the management of high-risk inmates, violent extremist offenders, and prison reform.
“The main aspects of the programs are based on trust and mutual respect. But just because it works elsewhere, it may not work here. “
Earning the trust of a community that was suspicious of outsiders was sometimes “touch and go,” says Jones. You get a lot of work through word of mouth, sometimes criminals recommend you to other criminals.
But reaching out to extremists has earned him a reputation.
“When I work with ultra-terrorist groups, people say, ‘They have gone to the dark side, they have become radicalized.’
“How can you understand a person’s needs unless you’ve talked to them and understood them? You have to know what they think, why you are suddenly a violent extremist. “
Jones works closely with other specialists, including psychologists and psychiatrists, to develop a program.
“I look at what the criminogenic needs are. What are the structural elements of a person’s life that led them to commit a crime, that led to their propensity for violence? ”.
Jones had considered Ahamed Samsudeen low risk when he evaluated him in 2018.
He told the High Court that the man did not appear to be violent and did not fit the profile of a young Muslim who had been radicalized.
Jones offered Samsudeen’s lawyers a program he had devised in Australia for young Muslims coming out of prison.
“I thought we could also see if these principles would work.”
He didn’t get a chance to prove it because the police resisted, but he doesn’t know why. Jones says there is a lack of transparency in national security operations.
“It is difficult for the police and difficult for the security agencies, but if things don’t work out, you have to look for alternatives.”
Jones, who had a phone call with Samsudeen in 2018, says he was crying out for help in New Zealand.
“It was about how he felt, his incarceration, the discussion about the abuse. I had many complaints.
“It was not productive,” he says of the phone call. “Sometimes it takes several conversations, maybe more.”
Jones says he would have perfected the intervention program once it was approved, but without the support of the police, Samsudeen’s legal team could not afford to take it further.
Circles of Support
“I work in some of the most socially disadvantaged areas in Sydney and Melbourne. It is not unusual to see me in a particular youth center. The children took a long time to come to talk to me about something.
“I have attended youth camps, I have been to family events, weddings. Takes a lot of time.
“You sit on the fence between being an intern and a stranger.”
Jones uses a framework called Circles of Support and Responsibility where groups of volunteers and professionals support the reintegration of the offender into society.
“The person you are working with is in the circle with a person with whom you have a close relationship. It’s about establishing trust.
“As they come out of the circle, they are presented with a trusted support, ideally people of the same cultural background.”
Jones says that Samsudeen’s lawyer would have been within his first circle and then would have gone deeper into the Muslim community.
He says that the program should take responsibility for the oversight given to the police and the government.
The program can last several years.
“You have to have dedication. That is why community support is really important in establishing a family.
“Muslims do it well, they have a brotherhood, a brotherhood.
Jones says he couldn’t guarantee that the show would have worked with Samsudeen.
The ball was not dropped
“No one has been able to come up with the process to accurately describe how someone becomes radicalized and a program to de-radicalize him,” says Dr. John Battersby, a professor at Massey University’s Center for Defense and Security Studies.
Samsudeen was not interested in rehab and a constant of the programs is that everyone needs consent.
Battersby says the best approach is to provide education and job skills.
“So, in many ways, it seeks to give disadvantaged people the means to move forward.”
Battersby rejects any “criticism that someone dropped the ball. Every agency, every group has done everything possible within the law to work with this guy.
“The analysis that we must do (is) let’s see these limits of the law, let’s see what we can do to stretch them.”
Mothers and sisters
Aliya Danzeisen of the New Zealand Council of Islamic Women says her group has been calling for more financial and professional support for community groups for years.
No support is “like having a novice driver driving a Maserati.
“If you have a psychosis, you don’t send them to the local dairy for support,” he says.
Any rehab program needs women at the table.
“The most effective in de-radicalizing people are mothers or sisters.”