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New Lynn terror attack: Inquest to be held to determine if government agencies could’ve prevented Samsudeen

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A coronial inquest will be held as to whether government agencies could have done more to prevent an Islamic State supporter from attacking multiple shoppers at a West Auckland supermarket.

Ahamad Samsudeen, 32, injured six shoppers, including three critically, in a frenzied knife attack before being shot dead by two undercover police officers at the New Lynn Countdown on September 3, 2021.

A statement from Coroner Marcus Elliot today noted that while Samsudeen’s case was “complex and difficult” for government agencies who dealt with him, there were still questions that arose.

The coroner said those questions were as to whether “government agencies contributed to him becoming radicalised and whether they could have taken steps to divert him from the path to violent extremism”.

“These are important questions because government agencies may need to manage others in similar circumstances, and there is a high public interest in ensuring that all possible steps are taken to prevent someone living in this country from becoming radicalised and carrying out this type of attack.”

The Sri Lankan national, who arrived in New Zealand on a student visa in 2011, first came to the attention of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) in September 2015 and the police in March 2016, more than five years before the attack.

Ahamed Samsudeen in 2017.
Ahamed Samsudeen in 2017.

“It appears that Mr Samsudeen became radicalised while living in New Zealand,” Coroner Elliot said.

Samsudeen was released from prison in July 2021 after being convicted of two charges of possessing objectionable material relating to Islamic State (Isis), and one charge of failing to assist a police officer exercising a search power. He also faced further charges which were dismissed and was on bail at the time of the attack for assaulting two Corrections officers while in custody.

Some issues relating to the period between Samsudeen’s release from custody in July 2021 and the event on September 3 require further inquiry, the coroner added.

Emergency services rush a victim to an ambulance after the September 2021 attack. Photo / Alex Burton
Emergency services rush a victim to an ambulance after the September 2021 attack. Photo / Alex Burton

“These questions include how Mr Samsudeen was managed during the time he was residing at an Auckland mosque, police planning and control of the surveillance of Mr Samsudeen in the community and the events of 3 September 2021.”

A multi-agency co-ordinated review described Samsudeen as a “violent extremist” and his actions at the New Lynn Countdown as a “terror attack”.

“The coroner therefore ruled that the cause of Mr Samsudeen’s death is linked to his radicalisation while living in New Zealand and that his path to violent extremism forms part of the circumstances of his death,” Coroner Elliot said.

Ahamad Samsudeen in an image he posted to his social media accounts.
Ahamad Samsudeen in an image he posted to his social media accounts.

The coronial inquest would inquire into “unresolved factual issues” regarding Samsudeen’s actions in the period “immediately before, during and after” he was shot.

Coroner Elliot ruled he would not look into what police staff who shot Samsudeen knew about the circumstances at the time. “That has been addressed by the IPCA [Independent Police Conduct Authority], which concluded that the officers were justified in shooting at him to defend themselves and others.”

It comes after a multi-agency review in March found police were justified in shooting Samsudeen dead, an act which brought his Isis-inspired attack to an end.

A date for the inquest would be planned for the second half of this year if possible.

Benjamin Plummer is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He has worked for the Herald since 2022.



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