Terrorist Stabbing Attack In New Zealand Supermarket

In New Zealand, police shot and killed an ISIS supporter who reportedly stabbed and injured at least six people in a supermarket in Auckland. The authorities explained that the six people were transported to the hospital, three of which suffered critical injuries. The incident has been deemed a terrorist attack by authorities in New Zealand. It has been identified by officials that the perpetrator, Ahamed Aathill Mohamed Samusdeen, was under surveillance by multiple government agencies since he was released from prison.

In a press conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters that the perpetrator, who was a Sri Lankan national, was considered a security threat. Arden said that the attacker was identified as a “supporter of ISIS ideology” and had only been released from prison two months ago. It was reported to the media that the perpetrator spent three years in prison for possession of hunting knives and offensive publications.

The prime minister stated that she was aware of the perpetrator’s criminal status and activity before the incident on Friday. However, she pointed out that it was not legally possible to detain him. Arden explained that the terrorist attack was senseless and apologized for the incident. She made it a point within the press conference to emphasize that, “What happened today was despicable. It was hateful, it was wrong. It was carried out by an individual, not a faith…He alone carries the responsibility for these acts.”

This terrorist attack in New Zealand presents the crucial understanding that the extreme ideology of ISIS still influences some individuals living in western societies. The ISIS ideology continues to connect with people who are easily susceptible to believing the anti-western narrative. More specifically, social media and encrypted platforms have become a place for ISIS to mobilize followers and believers for their movement.

The issues regarding radical mobilization within ISIS pose a big problem to the security of countries and regions. Even if it has been identified by authorities that the perpetrator acted alone in the attack by describing him as a “lone wolf,” he was still taking part in a global group that promotes a harmful and dangerous ideology to gain more followers. There must be steps taken to combat this type of radicalization and mobilization by terrorist groups for the safety of civilians and communities.

The perpetrator came to New Zealand on a student visa in 2011. He was a Tamil Muslim and was granted refugee status in 2013 on the basis that he and his father were experiencing security and safety concerns in Sri Lanka because of their political background. The perpetrator explained that he had been severely “attacked, kidnapped, and tortured” while also fearing for his life. In 2017, the attacker was arrested at the Auckland airport because of suspicious activity.

It was stated that he was travelling to Syria to participate in the Islamic State militant group. He would then spend three years in prison on numerous charges, including possession of hunting knives and assaulting a corrections officer. Authorities had tried to remove the attacker from New Zealand during 2018 and 2019. However, the deportation appeal process was still in progress during the period of the attack, with the hearing date scheduled for later this month. The prime minister explained that the perpetrator received his refugee status under pretenses. There were concerns addressed to officials about keeping this type of dangerous individual in the country. However, under the current law, New Zealand’s immigration services could not detain the attacker while he was waiting for his appeal hearing.

The occurrence of terrorist attacks in New Zealand is very concerning for the safety and security of civilians. Only two years ago, a white supremacist entered two Christchurch mosques by shooting and killing 51 people and injuring 40 people. This deadly attack was labelled as terrorism by Prime Minster Arden and had a huge and lasting effect on the country. With understanding how terrorist groups like ISIS function in mobilizing and radicalizing individuals to follow their ideology, it is crucial to combat this type of violent behaviour and beliefs.

After the attack, there has been an effort by New Zealand to tighten counterterrorism laws with the introduction of The Counter Terror Legislation Bill. This bill will help to close a loophole that allows perpetrators of terrorist attacks to stay free. This first step will not solve all the current issues regarding terrorism, however, it will put the country on a path towards providing more protection for civilians.