A 'violent extremist' who stabbed six people at an Auckland supermarket and was later shot dead by police was named after an Auckland court lifted a publication suppression order.
Ahamend Aathill Mohammad Samsudeen, 32, arrived in New Zealand on a student visa from Sri Lanka in 2011. After that, he sought refugee status owing to the risk of being harmed by Sri Lankan authorities due to his 'political background'. His request for asylum was granted by a New Zealand tribunal in 2013, who determined that his fears of facing harm if deported to Sri Lank were 'well-founded.'
Samsudeen had been on law enforcement radar for years before the attack. Police first opened an inquiry into him in March 2016 when he posted videos and pictures of graphic war footage. He also made comments online advocating violent extremism and support for terrorists involved in attacks.
In a separate incident in 2017, he was arrested at Auckland Airport in possession of a one-way ticket bound for Singapore after purportedly telling a person at an Auckland area mosque that he wanted to go to Syria "to fight for ISIS."
In response to this pattern of behaviour, the Refugee Status Branch (RSB) issued a notice in 2018 that they would be revoking his refugee status. Samsudeen appealed the decision saying he was still fearful of what would happen if he was deported back to Sri Lanka. His Google browser history and bookmarks included terms like: "Islamic State dress," "New Zealand prison clothes and food," "improvised explosive devices," "heroes of Isis" (sic) and a pdf of an ISIS booklet on evading detection by Western intelligence and security forces.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Samsudeen was also before the courts on charges of possessing ISIS propaganda, for which he was later convicted. However, the court elected to invoke the 2009 Immigration Act to prohibit the publication of Samsudeen's identity and his status as a refugee.
Instead of jail time, he was instead sentenced to one year's probation for "possession of extremist material" and ordered to undergo a psychological assessment, which never took place. He was also directed by the courts to live at a West Auckland mosque and was not allowed to move from that address without approval.
Before the terrorist attack at the Auckland supermarket, Samsudeen was under twenty-four-hour surveillance by police just days after a High Court ruled that he could not be jailed for planning a previous attack that was foiled. The Crown sought to charge him under the Terrorism Suppression Act, but its request was denied because the scope of the law did not include the prior planning of attacks.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Samsudeen was "New Zealand's 'worst-kept secret'" with his activities closely tracked by counter-terrorism officials.