At the same time, Samsudeen was before the courts on charges of possessing ISIS propaganda. He was later convicted.
During that process, the court used the Immigration Act 2009 to ban publication of Samsudeen’s identity and status as a refugee.
His Google searches and computer bookmarks from July and August 2018 included: Islamic State dress, New Zealand prison clothes and food, improvised explosive devices, heroes of Isis and an Isis-issued booklet on how to avoid being detected by Western security.
At his latest trial in 2021, Samsudeen claimed his internet searches and videos were not evidence he supported Islamic State.
Some videos included a soldier killing a civilian, a soldier killing a 13-year-old child, and people being bound and burnt.
Prior to the Auckland supermarket attack, Samsudeen was being watched by New Zealand police 24 hours a day after High Court ruled that he could not be jailed for planning an earlier, foiled terrorist attack.
The Crown had sought to charge him under the Terrorism Suppression Act, but the application was declined as the law does not cover plans for attacks.
He was instead sentenced to one year’s supervision for possession of extremist material.
Samsudeen was facing further charges of assault and injuring with intent to injure after attacking prison guards while he was on remand.
He had been ordered to undergo a psychological assessment but no such assessment happened. He was also directed to live at a West Auckland mosque and was not allowed to move from that address without approval.
Although his name had been suppressed since 2018, he had become New Zealand’s worst-kept secret, his activities closely tracked by counter-terrorism officials, local journalists and politicians.
The shocking broad daylight attack has raised questions about the effectiveness of the nation’s counter-terrorism laws, which were due to be overhauled in the wake of the 2019 Christchurch mosque killings by Australian far-right terrorist Brenton Tarrant.
New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern has revealed that on the same day Samsudeen grabbed a knife from a supermarket shelf and started stabbing fellow customers, New Zealand’s Justice Minister was rushing to amend the nation’s counter-terrorism laws to allow extremists to be detained before attacks were carried out.
Samsudeen was being shadowed by the police when he went to the New Lynn shopping mall in Auckland on Friday afternoon. He went shopping for 10 minutes in a supermarket before grabbing a knife from a shelf and attacking people around him, stabbing at least five people and injuring two others. Three were critically injured.
CCTV suggested police took 69 seconds to respond after the attack began. Police shot him dead as he ran out of the supermarket still wielding the knife.
In a press conference, Ardern said that even if the laws had been amended in time, they could not have applied retrospectively.
“We wanted to make this rule change, but it is still really speculative to say that even that would have made a difference here,” she said. “This individual was kept in prison as long as we could. He was charged with possessing objectionable materials, and for possessing a knife.”
Ardern said the courts had rejected an application from the government to monitor Samsudeen’s movements through GPS tracking, so when he was released from remand in July, a dedicated police team started round-the-clock surveillance.
The Prime Minister said she was personally updated on the case in late July, and by August 9 had met with officials to discuss “further options to try and reduce the risk that this person posed to the community”.
“In late August, officials including the commissioner of police raised the possibility of expediting the amendments to the counter-terrorism legislation,” she said. “Within 48 hours of these discussions, the Minister of Justice contacted the chair of the select committee with the intention of speeding that law change up. That was yesterday, the same day the attack happened.
“As you can see, agencies used every tool available to protect innocent people from this individual. Every legal avenue was tried.”
Ardern said that while she supported the courts releasing the Samsudeen’s name, she would not to name him herself.
“No terrorist, whether alive or deceased, deserves their name to be shared for the infamy they were seeking,” she said.
On Friday night, High Court judge Justice Edwin Wylie had ruled Samsudeen could be named, but delayed publication for 24 hours to give his family time to seek suppression if they wish. That suppression order was lifted late Saturday.
Stuff.co.nz, with staff reporters
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