New Zealand terrorist forged medical documents to claim refugee status

New Zealand supermarket terrorist BOASTED about duping immigration officials with forged medical records which helped him claim refugee status

  • An ex-colleague has recalled how Ahamed Aathil Mohamed Samsudeen boasted about duping New Zealand immigration officials
  • The 32-year-old also used false documents to help bolster his refugee claim
  • His refugee status was revoked in 2019 and he was due to be deported 
  • The Sri-Lankan-born terrorist stabbed seven people in Auckland shop on Friday
  • He arrived in New Zealand in 2011 on student visa and granted refugee status
  • In 2016, he came to the attention of the police for showing terrorist sympathies 
  • Legal options to detain and prosecute him were limited and new powers are due to be approved this month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said 

The Islamic-State inspired terrorist who carried out a frenzied attack at a New Zealand supermarket last week forged documents to bolster his claims for refugee status.

Ahamed Aathil Mohamed Samsudeen, 32, embellished medical documents and manufactured statements from family members in order to support his claim.

He also boasted about duping immigration officials, a former colleague has revealed.

The man said Samsudeen, who was from Sri-Lanka, had told him: ‘New Zealand Government don’t know about my visa,’ the former colleague said  

‘He was trying to say he was ripping off the New Zealand system. I think he was just bragging,’ the man told the New Zealand Herald. 

The man, who asked to remain anonymous, said he had a ‘sinking feeling’ when he saw pixelated photos of the terrorist last month in a story from the paper regarding a failed attempt to prosecute Samsudeen under the Terrorism Suppression Act of 2002. 

‘When you guys ran that photo the other week, of him blurred out with the air-rifle, I thought: ‘Oh my God,’ the man said.

The former colleague’s recollection came shortly after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed that authorities had been trying to deport Samsudeen for years, slapping him with a deportation notice in April 2019 after his refugee status was revoked. 

While the legal process dragged on, Samsudeen grabbed a knife off a supermarket shelf in Auckland on Friday and injured seven people, leaving three critically wounded. 

Ahamed Aathil Mohamed Samsudeen, 32, boasted about duping immigration officials, a former colleague has revealed, as it is confirmed that the terrorist used false documents to bolster a refugee claim

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured) said measures were already underway to strengthen New Zealand’s terrorism suppression laws following the attack

While the legal process dragged on, Samsudeen grabbed a knife off a supermarket shelf in Auckland on Friday and injured seven people, leaving three critically wounded. Pictured: Police at the scene in Auckland on Friday

Samsudeen, who had been flagged to authorities as having shown support for terror group Islamic State, was shot dead by police who were tailing him. 

Ardern, who described the stabbings as a ‘terrorist attack’, admitted over the weekend that authorities had investigated the possibility of detaining Samsudeen during the deportation process and that it was ‘frustrating’ he was allowed to remain free. 

She said she expected a toughening of the country’s counter-terrorism legislation, already moving through New Zealand’s parliament before Friday’s attack, would be backed by MPs by the end of September. 

The revelations regarding Samsudeen emerged after automatic legal restrictions preventing his name being made public were removed on Saturday.

Islamic State-inspired New Zealand terror attacker was first placed on terror watchlist in 2016

Ahamed Aathil Mohamed Samsudeen, 32, who was shot dead in a Countdown supermarket on Friday was known to police and politicians for his extremist views, which were largely inspired by terror group, ISIS.

The Sri Lankan arrived in New Zealand in 2011 and was first placed on the terror watchlist in 2016 after authorities were alerted to extremist posts he made on social media. 

Some of the videos he shared online depicted war-related violence, a clear approval of violent extremism and pledging his support for ISIS, New Zealand Herald reported.

He received an official warning from police but continued to post the material, including a comment which read: ‘One day I will go back to my country and I will find kiwi scums in my country… and I will show them… what will happen when you mess with S while I’m in their country. If you’re tough in your country… we are tougher in our country scums #payback’.

Samsudeen reportedly told a worshiper at a mosque that he hoped to join ISIS in Syria and was detained at Auckland International Airport in 2017 after booking a one-way flight to Singapore.  

He spent a year in custody before pleading guilty to distributing restricted material, earning a supervision order in 2018.

The day after he was released from prison, Samsudeen was arrested by counterterrorism police who followed him as he purchased a hunting knife. 

Internet search history reportedly found he’d researched how to kill ‘non-believers’.    

Police hoped to prosecute Samsudeen under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, but it was determined that preparing a terrorist attack was not an offence under the legislation, given he had not carried out any attacks.  

He was prosecuted on lesser charges of possessing propaganda in support of ISIS.

During his trial, Samsudeen reportedly told the jury: ‘You’re worried about one knife, I am telling you I will buy 10 knives. It’s about my rights.’ 

Samsudeen had reportedly performed internet searches asking about the guidelines of ‘lone-wolf mujahideen’, knife attacks and prison conditions in New Zealand. Following his release from prison, he was kept under 24/7 surveillance by police, who followed him from his home to the store on Friday.

It was revealed that the Islamist arrived in New Zealand from Sri Lanka as a 22-year-old in 2011 on a student visa.

His initial claim for refugee status and was rejected two years later then granted on appeal.

In part of his first claim, Samsudeen said that he and his father had been kidnapped and tortured because of their political views and ethnicity.     

The Immigration Protection Tribunal, with whom Samsudeen filed the appeal of his denied refugee claim, said some aspects of his account were ‘superficially unsatisfactory,’ but he was thought to be credible over all, the New Zealand Herald reported. 

In 2016, he came to the attention of the police and intelligence agencies after expressing sympathy on Facebook for terrorist attacks.

During their investigations, it became evident Samsudeen’s refugee status had been fraudulently obtained and the process to cancel his right to stay in New Zealand was begun, Ardern said.

Special permission was given to interview Samsudeen’s family, who had also left Sri Lanka, during the investigations. 

They confirmed they had been targeted during Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war, but did not corroborate the torture and kidnapping claims.

The following year he was arrested at Auckland Airport, when it was suspected to be making his way to Syria.

A police search of his home uncovered a large hunting knife and ‘material related to ISIS propaganda’, court documents said.

Ardern said deportation notices were served in April 2019. But Samsudeen, who described himself as a Tamil Muslim, appealed the deportation.

He told a court he faced ‘arrest, detention, mistreatment and torture’ if sent back to Sri Lanka.

‘He was still in prison at this time, and facing criminal charges. For a number of reasons, the deportation appeal could not proceed until after the conclusion of the criminal trial in May 2021,’ Ardern said.

‘In the meantime, agencies were concerned about the risk this individual posed to the community,’ she added, noting officials knew he could be released and that the appeal, ‘which was stopping his deportation, may take some time’.

New Zealand’s immigration agency looked into ways of detaining Samsudeen during the appeal process through the Immigration Act, according to Ardern.

‘It was incredibly disappointing and frustrating when legal advice came back to say this wasn’t an option,’ she said.

Samsudeen at that stage had been held in custody for three years and authorities had exhausted all avenues to keep him detained.

Attempts to have him charged under New Zealand’s Terrorism Suppression Act were unsuccessful and Ardern said changes to New Zealand’s counter-terrorism legislation were expected to be approved by parliament before the end of the month.

‘In late August, officials including the commissioner of police raised the possibility of expediting the amendments,’ she said.

Police commissioner Andrew Coster said there had been nothing unusual about Samsudeen’s actions in the lead up to the attack, and that he had appeared to be doing normal grocery shopping.

Because he had a ‘high level of paranoia’ around surveillance, Coster said the police kept their distance, and it took more than two minutes to reach and shoot him after he started his stabbing spree.

The day after the attack, Sri Lankan authorities said they would cooperate with New Zealand’s investigation ‘in any way necessary’, according to foreign ministry spokesman Kohularangan Ratnasingam.

Sri Lankan police sources said criminal investigators had already interviewed Samsudeen’s brother, who lives in the capital Colombo.

Ardern said deportation notices were served in April 2019. But Samsudeen (pictured), who described himself as a Tamil Muslim, appealed the deportation

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster (pictured right) said there had been nothing unusual about Ahamed Aathil Mohamed Samsudeen’s actions in the lead up to the attack at an Auckland supermarket on Friday, and he had appeared to be doing normal grocery shopping

‘We are collecting information about him as well as anyone else who may have had contacts with him,’ a top police official said.

In an interview on Saturday, Samsudeen’s mother claimed her son had been ‘brainwashed’ by neighbours she said hailed from Syria and Iraq.

‘We knew there was a change in him,’ she told Hiru TV from her home in Kattankudy, east of Colombo.

Sri Lanka’s Muslim Council has condemned the Auckland attack as a ‘barbaric act of terrorism’.

‘This reminds all of us to come together and be united and fight against terrorism and violent extremism,’ council member Mohamed Hisham told the news agency AFP.

Sri Lankan Muslim legislator Mujibur Rahman said his community was saddened by the attack, while lauding Ardern for easing public sentiment.

‘Her statement soon after the incident defused the situation and ensured there was no harm to the Sri Lankan community (in New Zealand),’ Rahman told AFP.

Ardern insisted no one community should be singled out for the violence.

‘It was carried out by an individual, not a faith, not a culture, not an ethnicity,’ she said.

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