New Zealand moves to criminalize terrorist attack planning after mall stabbing

New Zealand officials tried “for years” to deport the terrorist who stabbed shoppers in an Auckland supermarket Friday before being fatally shot by police who were surveilling him, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Driving the news: Ardern vowed Saturday to tighten New Zealand’s security laws by the month’s end following the stabbing attack by the “ISIS-inspired” Ahamed Aathil Mohamed Samsudeen, 32 — who was fighting to stay in NZ as a refugee when he injured seven shoppers, three critically, officials said.

Why it matters: The Counter Terror Legislation Bill would criminalize the planning and preparation of a potential attack in an effort to close a loophole critics have said allowed such suspects to remain free.

Ardern said the attacker, originally from Sri Lanka, was being constantly monitored because he couldn’t legally be imprisoned, and police responded quickly as he was being surveilled when the attack happened.

The big picture: The Auckland LynnMall supermarket attacker came to security services’ attention in 2016, but his name, the fact he was a refugee and that officials were trying to have this status revoked could not be previously reported due to a court suppression order, which a judge lifted Saturday night.

He spent three years in prison after being charged with offenses including possessing hunting knives and objectionable publications. He was released from prison two months ago.

What they’re saying: Officials had been trying since 2018 to deport him after learning that his refugee status “was fraudulently obtained,” Ardern said in a statement.

They attempted to have him imprisoned ahead of a hearing only to be denied by the courts, added Ardern, describing this process as “frustrating.”

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