Auckland Mall Terrorist Attack: Isis Supporter Arrested For Allegedly Plotting ‘Lone Wolf’ Knife Attack

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S came to the attention of New Zealand police in 2016 after posting “decidedly anti-Western and violent” material on his social media accounts. Photo / Supplied

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The man police shot dead in an Auckland supermarket today after stabbing several shoppers is a known supporter of Isis whom police previously arrested for allegedly planning a “lone wolf” knife attack.

He was fatally shot by police after six shoppers were injured – three of them seriously – in gruesome scenes at the New Lynn Mall countdown this afternoon.

The injured were reportedly attacked before their attacker was shot dead by police.

The offender is a 32-year-old male – known only as the “S” for legal reasons – who has been on the police radar for several years, the Herald revealed last month.

S was considered a threat to public safety after twice purchasing large hunting knives and possessing Islamic State videos.

He had just been released from prison and was under constant police surveillance, including an armed tactical team, and national security agencies.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the media that the attack was carried out by an individual, not a faith, not a culture, not an ethnicity, but a person gripped by an ideology that is not supported by anyone here.

She said the attacker was inspired by Isis.

“We used all the legal and supervisory powers at our disposal to protect people from this individual,” Ardern said.

Last year, the Crown sought to prosecute S under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, but a High Court judge ruled that planning a terrorist attack was not in itself an offense under the law. .

S was instead sued for lesser charges. On May 26 of this year, he was found guilty by a jury of possession of propaganda material supporting the Islamic State.

He was acquitted of the remaining counts of possession of a video showing a beheaded prisoner and possession of an offensive weapon.

According to a report prepared for his conviction in July this year, S has “the means and the motivation to commit violence in the community”.

He was sentenced to one year of surveillance, which was to be served in a West Auckland mosque.

S was tried in the High Court earlier this year on charges of possession of material related to Isis.  Photo / Supplied
S was tried in the High Court earlier this year on charges of possession of material related to Isis. Photo / Supplied

At his trial, S told the jury, “You’re worried about a knife, I’m telling you I’m going to buy 10. These are my rights.”

S’s internet history, the court heard, also revealed some chilling research, some of which had been electronically bookmarked. They included “safety and security guidelines for lone wolf Mujahedin,” looking for hunting knife, camouflage pants, Islamic State outfit, neo prison clothes. Zealander and food.

S also worked to find the case of Imran Patel, an Isis supporter and the first person in New Zealand jailed for distributing extremist videos. Patel was arrested at Auckland International Airport while trying to leave for Syria with a companion.

The history of the Internet on S’s devices further revealed a booklet for Isis agents to help them avoid detection by security and intelligence agencies in Western countries.

“How to survive in the west a mujahideen guide,” was another Google search.

An internet video heard by the lawsuit purported to provide instructions on “How to attack the kuffar and how to make explosive devices.” Kuffar, or kafir, is an Arabic term used to describe an infidel or an unbeliever.

S first arrived in New Zealand in October 2011 from Sri Lanka.

However, in the fall of 2016, he came to the attention of the police because of the posting of “decidedly anti-Western and violent” content on his Facebook page.

There were videos and images depicting graphic war-related violence, comments advocating violent extremism and support for Isis terrorists involved in the Paris attacks in November 2015 and the Brussels bombing in March 2016. .

S received a formal warning from the police but continued to post violent material, including a comment saying, “Someday I will return to my country and find kiwi scum in my country… and I will show them… what will happen when you play with S while I’m in their country. If you are tough in your country …

The hunting knife S purchased was presented as evidence at trial earlier this year.  Photo / New Zealand Herald
The hunting knife S purchased was presented as evidence at trial earlier this year. Photo / New Zealand Herald

Police say S told a worshiper at a mosque that he was planning to join Isis in Syria.

In May 2017, he was arrested at Auckland International Airport after booking a one-way ticket to Singapore. A search of S’s Auckland apartment uncovered material glorifying violence, including images of him posing with an air rifle and a large hunting knife hidden under his mattress.

S was held in custody, denied bail for over a year, and eventually pleaded guilty to distributing restricted material. Due to the length of time S had already spent in detention, he was sentenced by a High Court judge to surveillance in 2018.

S has not given up on his extremist views. The day after his release, on August 7, 2018, he bought an identical hunting knife. The anti-terrorist police, who had continued to monitor S, arrested him again.

Another search of her apartment uncovered a large amount of violent material, including an Islamic State video on how to kill “non-believers” in which a masked man cut off her throat and wrists. a prisoner.

This time, prosecutors sought to indict S under the Suppression of Terrorism Act, but were dismissed by the High Court.

In his ruling, Judge Matthew Downs said: “Terrorism is a great evil. Lone wolf terrorist attacks with knives and other makeshift weapons, such as cars or trucks, are far from unknown. Recent events in Christchurch demonstrate that New Zealand should not be complacent.

“Some of us are prepared to resort to deadly violence for ideological, political or religious purposes. Failure to violate planning or preparing for a terrorist act… could be an Achilles heel.”

However, the judge added: “It is not open to a court to create an offense, whether under the guise of statutory interpretation or otherwise. The matter is up to Parliament.

The case illustrated a loophole in New Zealand’s counterterrorism powers that police and security agencies say limits their ability to protect the public from violent extremists – but which successive governments have failed to address. .

Since then, the Labor government has offered new counterterrorism powers.

The ruling was cited by government officials as one of the key events leading to the introduction of new counterterrorism powers in April. The judge’s concerns were echoed by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch bombings when it presented its findings in November.

The new Labor Counterterrorism Bill, which passed at first reading in May, would criminalize planning or preparing for a terrorist attack.

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