Auckland Attack: New Zealand Tried to Deport Terrorist for Years Without Success

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.


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AFP 2021 / MARIKA KHABZI

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.


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REUTERS / STUFF LIMITED/RICKY WILSON


New Zealand PM Reveals Why Supermarket Stabbing Spree Perpetrator Wasn’t Jailed Before Attack

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.


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REUTERS / REUTERS TV

A woman police officer outside the LynnMall in Auckland

“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.