Auckland Attack: New Zealand Tried to Deport Terrorist for Years Without Success
Samsudeen walked to an Auckland supermarket on Friday and started stabbing random individuals, injuring seven before being shot by police. Three of the casualties remain in critical condition, while three others are in stable or moderate condition. Authorities added that the seventh victim was healing at home.
New Zealand authorities spent more than four years attempting to deport the terrorist who stabbed multiple people in a store in Auckland, the nation's Radio New Zealand reported on Saturday.
And, according to the report, attempts to have Sri Lankan national Ahamed Aathill Mohamed Samsudeen's refugee status revoked all failed, a development that New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reportedly described as a "frustrating process."
Since suppression orders prohibiting the release of information about the terrorist's identity, history, or immigration status expired on Friday night, the outlet revealed that immigration officials were attempting to have his refugee status terminated because it was thought to have been obtained under false pretenses.
However, if Samsudeen was ever transported back to Sri Lanka, he reportedly told the court that he could be arrested, held, abused, or tortured. This, in turn, prompted the New Zealand court to fear for the life of the future attacker.
After then 22-year-old Samsudeen first came to New Zealand in 2011 under a student visa, he reportedly applied for refugee status, claiming that he and his father had had major issues with the Sri Lankan authorities because of their political backgrounds.
© AFP 2022 / MARIKA KHABZIThis handout image taken and received by Radio New Zealand on September 3, 2021 shows a general view of a shopping mall housing a supermarket in Auckland where an Islamic State-inspired attacker injured six people
This handout image taken and received by Radio New Zealand on September 3, 2021 shows a general view of a shopping mall housing a supermarket in Auckland where an Islamic State-inspired attacker injured six people
Back then, according to the media, Samsudeen's initial application was turned down by Immigration New Zealand in 2012 because his allegation was deemed untrustworthy. After filing an appeal, the Immigration and Protection Tribunal recognized Samsudeen as a refugee in December 2013.
However, he was warned in May 2018 that officials sought to terminate his refugee status, which would result in his deportation, and Samsudeen went to court once more. The immigration authorities wanted to revoke his refugee status due to the sharing of extremist materials online.
3 September 2021, 13:03 GMT
The future terrorist was successful in appealing this decision in court, as he reportedly said before the justice that he "has been attacked, kidnapped and tortured, that he went into hiding in response to those incidents, and that he came to New Zealand in 2011 to seek refugee status."
"I'm very afraid of returning to Sri Lanka because I'm afraid of the authorities there and the same risks and fears [that] I had when I left my country are still there in Sri Lanka," he expressed.
The justice handling the case stated that there was a "real and appreciable possibility" that Samsudeen's safety would be jeopardized if his refugee status was removed and he was returned.
The terrorist refugee status was revoked by Immigration New Zealand in February 2019, and he was served with deportation responsibility notices. He appealed the judgment to the Immigration Protection Tribunal in April 2019.
A 'Frustrating Process' of Failed Deportation Efforts
At the end of this long history of legal delays, in May this year, a jury convicted Samsudeen of two counts of possessing Islamist literature that advocated terrorism and one count of failing to comply with a search warrant. He was eventually sentenced to 12 months of supervision in July after spending three years in custody for the possession of objectionable materials and steel arms.
Meanwhile, Ardern reportedly stated that agencies were concerned about Samsudeen's threat 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," she is quoted in the report as saying, adding that the authorities tried to find a legal reason to continue the detention of Samsudeen while the hearing on his appeal was underway.
"It was incredibly disappointing and frustrating when legal advice came back to say this wasn't an option," Ardern admitted. "This has been a frustrating process. Since 2018, ministers have been seeking advice on our ability to deport this individual."
According to the reports, Samsudeen's case before the Immigration and Protection Tribunal was delayed on August 26. The question of whether or not he would be deported was unanswered at the time of the deadly terrorist attack.