Three people remain in a critical conditon after an ISIS-inspired "lone wolf" terrorist stabbed seven people at a west Auckland supermarket on Friday.
Seven people were injured, three critically, after Ahamed Aathil Mohamed Samsudeen attacked shoppers at the Countdown supermarket in LynnMall before 3pm.
The Prime Minister outlined the terrorist's background and extensive history with the courts at a press conference on Saturday.
After first coming to the attention of police in 2016, over the last five years, the man has been charged with a raft of offences, ranging from possessing weapons and objectionable material to not assisting police with their searches.
He spent around three years in prison awaiting his trials. In July, after being sentenced to 12 months supervision for possessing an objectionable publication, the man was released on bail with further charges pending.
The Prime Minister said every legal avenue was exhausted attempting to keep this man in prison and the community safe. She hopes to push through new counter-terrorism legislation by the end of September.
The perpetrator, who can't yet be named, was shot dead by police during the attack, in which seven people were injured with a knife, most stabbed.
The Auckland High Court on Friday night lifted suppression orders on the man's identity, but his name can't be published until Saturday night at the earliest, allowing his family 24 hours to seek suppression orders of their own.
Ardern condemned the attack by the ISIS-inspired terrorist on Friday saying, "This was a violent attack, it was senseless and I'm so sorry it happened."
"It was despicable, it was hateful, it was wrong. It was carried out by an individual, not a faith, not a culture, not an ethnicity - but an individual person who was gripped by ideology that is not supported here by anyone or any community, Ardern said.
"He alone carries the responsibility for these acts. Let that be where the judgement falls."
A timeline of the deadly attack can be read here.
What we know:
- A man attacked fellow shoppers with a knife at Countdown LynnMall in west Auckland shortly after 2pm
- Seven people were injured, three critically and with five remaining in hospital
- The attacker was shot dead by police shortly within roughly a minute of undercover officers becoming aware of the attack. He had quietly stabbed someone about a minute before that
- The Prime Minister said it was a terror attack and the perpetrator was inspired by ISIS
- The man is a Sri Lankan national who moved to New Zealand in 2011 and came to police's attention in 2016. He has an extensive history with the courts and spent about three years in prison awaiting trials
- All legal avenues were exhausted trying to keep him in prison, but he was released on bail in July
- A suppression order concealing his name has been lifted, but his identity can't be reported until Saturday night at the earliest
- More information about the man, including to do with immigration and his status in New Zealand, is expected to be revealed on Sunday.
These live updates have now finished.
7:30pm - The UK Foreign Secretary has sent his thoughts to New Zealand.
"My thoughts are with those affected by the dreadful terrorist attack that took place in Auckland," Dominic Raab said. "New Zealand is a close friend and partner of the UK, and we will continue to work closely with them to counter terrorism and uphold our values."
6:35pm - For five years, the LynnMall terrorist has been supporting ISIS ideologies in New Zealand, from posting violent war videos to hiding hunting knives in his bedroom. But his family say they had no idea what he was up to.
Newshub can't tell you his name yet, but authorities had a very clear picture of exactly who he was.
5:35pm - Police Commissoner Andrew Coster has just released a statement:
"Police continue to investigate the events surrounding yesterday’s horrific LynnMall attack, and are providing reassurance patrols in the New Lynn area and around the country.
"Three people remain in Auckland City Hospital in a critical condition today, and two others remain in a stable condition at Auckland City and Middlemore hospitals.
"Another person remains in moderate condition at Middlemore Hospital.
"I can now confirm that five of the six victims transported to hospital yesterday had been stabbed, and one had suffered a dislocated shoulder.
"Overnight, we identified a seventh victim in this attack, who received a minor injury which he treated at home.
"This man narrowly avoided more serious injury when he evaded the attacker.
"The victims are four women aged 29, 43, 60 and 66, and three men aged 53, 57 and 77. Our thoughts remain with the victims of this horrific attack and their loved ones, who will be suffering great anguish.
"We wish to preserve the victims and their families’ right to privacy at what is obviously a distressing time.
"Police can now provide more detail of the events surrounding yesterday’s attack and can confirm the attacker travelled by train to the supermarket in LynnMall, arriving just before 2.30pm.
"The surveillance team following him observed him taking a trolley at the supermarket and begin shopping as we had observed him doing on previous occasions.
"He was shopping as normal for approximately 10 minutes before the attack started.
"As noted yesterday, it was around 60 seconds from the time the surveillance team became aware of a commotion to when they engaged the attacker and shot him.
"Following a review of the in-store CCTV footage we now know that the first victim was stabbed approximately 60-90 seconds before the surveillance team heard shouts and saw people running.
"I want to reaffirm that our Police staff showed great bravery and professionalism in their response to this attack.
"They acted in exactly the way we would have expected them to in this situation, given they were following an individual who had a high level of paranoia about surveillance activity.
"Suppression orders remain in place today, restricting what additional information Police can release regarding the attacker at this time.
"Our intention is to release information as and when we are able.
"I also want to acknowledge those other people caught up in the attack – the staff at Countdown LynnMall and other members of the public who were present, either in the supermarket or in the surrounding mall area.
"This will have been an incredibly shocking and distressing event for all involved.
"An extensive scene examination at LynnMall is continuing today, along with collation of CCTV footage and witness statements.
"New Lynn residents can expect to see a continued police presence in the area, as the investigation team works at the scene and officers conduct reassurance patrols.
"We have also undertaken to have heightened visibility at other supermarkets and similar locations where people may gather.
"Anyone who witnessed the incident who has not yet spoken to Police is asked to get in touch via 105, quoting Operation Rally.
"We would also like to hear from anyone who has photos or videos.
"An online portal has been set up and this can be accessed at https://rally.nzpolice.org."
4:35pm - Here is how CNN covered the attack in the hours afterwards:
4:30pm - A forensic examination was undertaken at a mosque in Glen Eden earlier on Saturday.
4:10pm - The New Lynn Terrorist Attack Victims Fund Givealittle set up by the Muslim Association of Canterbury - which runs the Al Noor Mosque - has so far raised just over $14,000. If you wish to donate, you can do so here.
3:45pm - At the press conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern provided a timeline of events leading up to the Friday attack. It starts when the terrorist arrived in New Zealand in 2011 and covers his extensive history in the courts.
3:30pm - A lawyer who previously represented the man who committed Friday's attack and who has has been in contact with his family say they are shocked.
"They are obviously grieving at the moment," Davoud Mansouri-Rad told Newshub. "They were not aware of what this individual was doing and quite shocked to hear what has happened. They believe that he needed help. They were trying to get some help for him, but obviously that is too late."
3:20pm - An expert in terrorism and extremism says the risk of copycat or "tit-for-tat attacks from the other side" following Friday's stabbings in New Lynn is low.
Chris Wilson of the University of Auckland says much more likely is "lower-level intimidation and violence and abuse against the Muslim community".
Six people were stabbed by a man known to have sympathies for terror group Islamic State at a west Auckland supermarket on Friday. Luckily police had been following him, and shot him dead within a minute of the attack starting. None of the victims are known to have died at the time of writing.
"When there have been Islamist terror attacks overseas there often is a period afterwards where there is a sense of revenge and intimidation against Muslims on the street and in the community," Dr Wilson told Newshub Nation on Saturday.
3:05pm - We are organising to put the full press conference in the video above in case you missed it or want to go back and watch.
2:55pm - There is no information to suggest the man was targeting anyone based on ethnicity or gender, Ardern and Coster say.
Ardern says it's important we pass the counter-terrorism legislation as we want all tools available to keep Kiwis safe.
There are few people of similar concern to the Friday terrorist, Ardern says.
Coster says the seventh victim narrowly avoided being stabbed, but did suffer an injury from the knife. They self-treated and were discovered overnight.
2:45pm - Police presence at LynnMall currently is largely related to the investigation still underway there, Coster says.
Undercover officers can't be standing next to a subject all the time or always passing them as eventually they will be recognised, Coster says. He is confident this response was "fast".
There is a relatively small number of these trained officers and running such an operation for a lengthy time runs the risk of them being compromised. The man had previously challenged members of the public about whether they were surveying him.
Ardern says she hasn't been in touch with the Sri Lankan Government about the man. He reiterates this incident is about this man and his act, not about culture or faith.
2:35pm - Coster says the man was generally uncooperative with efforts to modify his behaviour or address underlying issues.
Coster is confident that officers need to use lethal force "without a doubt".
The concerning post that tipped officers off in 2016 regarded a bombing event in Europe, Ardern says.
Coster says the man's actions earlier on Friday showed "[the terrorist] had a vision beyond the day yesterday", but can't provide more detail at this stage.
2:30pm - Did the man know he was being tailed on Friday? Coster says he may have planned the attack or it may have been opportunistic but we will "probably never know the answer to that". CCTV footage shows the man removing a kitchen knife from the shelves. A scene examination remains underway, however.
Coster says all victims were injured by the offender. No one was injured by police shooting, he says.
2:25pm - Ardern says it is not fair to assume that the law change would have made a difference. Every legal avenue was used, she says. This was a "highly motivated individual" who used a supermarket visit as a "shield to attack".
The PM doesn't know enough about the man's activity between 2011 and 2016 to say how he was radicalised. The first postings of concern on Facebook were in 2016, she said.
She says successive governments didn't instigate the work on the Terrorism Suppression Act. Ardern can't speak to why he wasn't deported until suppression lifts.
2:15pm - Ardern tells media that in May 2020 she was told the man refused a psychological assessment.
In May of this year, the man was found guilty on charges of possession of objectionable publications and failing to assist police. He was found not guilty of another charge of possessing objectionable material and having a knife in a public place.
In July, he was sentenced to 12 months supervision. There were a number of conditions, like providing access to all social media accounts. GPS monitoring was sought by the Crown by not imposed by the courts.
All legal avenues were exhausted, meaning he had to be released from prison in mid-July, Ardern says. Risk mitigation was put in place, including using the armed officers who shot him on Friday.
Earlier in August, Ardern met with officials to find a way to reduce his risk to the community. It was suggested that amendments to the counter-Terrorism legislation could be brought forward. The Minister of Justice contacted the chair of the Select Committee considering the amendment on Friday, the same day the attack happened.
As soon as Parliament resumes, the law will be passed as soon as possible and no later than the end of the month. Ardern thanks Judith Collins for her support. There is further work underway, but Ardern has to wait to suppression orders to be lifted before speaking about it.
The PM thanks police and the public. She quotes the Iman of Al Noor Mosque, who said all terrorists at the same, regardless of their ideology. They stand for hate, we stand for peace and love.
2:10pm - Coster says cases like Friday's terrorist are very unusual. While many have concerning ideologies, few reach the highest level of concern. This case caused police the greatest concern. Police continue to monitor emerging risks, but the terrorism threat level remains at medium. Officers are keeping an eye out for unlawful activity motivated by hate and assurance patrols will be at shopping centres. There is misinformation circulating about the events and Coster asks the public to be cautious. This case was an outlier, Coster says.
Ardern tells reporters that overnight work has been undertaken by Crown Law to allow for more information to be released. This has been successful, but the family has time to provide an application for further suppression. She hopes more information can be shared in the next day.
Ardern has no intention of sharing his name. No terrorist deserves their name to be shared, she says.
The man arrived in NZ in October 2011 at the age of 20 on a student visa. It was not known he held extremist views at that time. He came to the attention of police at 2016 due to his sympathy on Facebook for recent terrorist attacks and comments advocating violent extremism. He was spoken to by police twice but activity online continued.
He was arrested at Auckland International Airport on the way to Syria in 2017. A search of his apartment found restricted publication and a hunting knife. He pleaded guilty to disturbing restricted publications and failing to assist with a police search. While on bail, he purchased a knife and he was arrested. Afterwards, another search found objectionable material. He was charged with possessing this, having an offensive weapon and failing to assist police. He was kept in custody.
In September 2018, he was sentenced to 12 months of supervision for the first set of charges. He remained in prison due to the additional charges on bail.
Ministers were briefed and officials looked at the policy on counter-terrorism, which continued throughout 2019, including a potential change to criminalise preparatory acts.
In July 2020, the Crown unsuccessfully tried to lay an additional charge for the knife and online post in relation to the Terrorism Suppression Act. But the charges of unlawfully possessing these items remained valid. While in custody, he assaulted Corrections' officers.
2:05pm - Ardern and Coster have arrived.
The Prime Minister says there were seven people injured in the attack, with five in hospital. Three are in a critical condition. The others are recovering at home.
Coster says there was nothing unusual about the subject's routine on Friday, travelling by train to the mall. In fact, Coster says, some actions suggest he was planning for the future. He arrived at 2:27pm and the surveillance team saw him shopping normally for about 10 minutes before the attack. CCTV footage is helping provide a timeline.
It was about 60 seconds from when officers became aware of the commotion to when they shot him. However, CCTV shows the first stabbing happened about 60 seconds prior. Surveillance is very difficult, Coster says, and different to a security detail. Officers had no legal grounds to detain him.
The subject had previously shown a high level of paranoia about surveillance, Coster says. As supermarkets were operating at level 4 the risk of compromise for officers is increased as less people are around. This meant officers couldn't move around the store, but were at the entrance. Coster says he believes they acted how they were expected to.
He thanks those who gave first aid and workers in the supermarket. He also acknowledges the other police and emergency services that came to assistance after the event.
Coster recognises the victims and their families who will be going through "great anguish".
1:50pm - The Catholic Bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand group has just issued a statement:
"The Catholic Bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand deplore the terrorist attack on innocent people in the supermarket in New Lynn, Auckland, yesterday.
"To those who have been injured, we hold you in our prayers and pray for your recovery. We are deeply saddened, and our hearts go out to you, your whānau, and the wider affected communities.
"We are conscious that perpetrators of such terror attacks always seek to divide communities as much as to inflict direct violence on individuals. We know that the actions of this one extremist are his crimes alone.
"The Catholic community of Aotearoa New Zealand stands with people of all faiths and alongside people who profess no faith, as a people united against violence in every form."
1:30pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Police Commissioner Andrew Coster will front a press conference at 2pm. You'll be able to watch that above or on Three.
12:31pm - While Countdown in LynnMall remained closed, people were queuing outside other stores in Auckland, unperturbed by the attack on Friday.
One shopper outside Countdown Mt Eden told Newshub she felt fine shopping at Countdown.
"I think it is unfortunate what happened but we are in central Auckland so that helps.
"I was just sad I guess to hear the news."
Another shopper said the news was 'shocking.'
"It could be anywhere, it is shocking. You can't stay at home though every day you need to do some shopping."
12:14pm - Countdown has issued a press release saying they have removed the sale of knives while they consider making it a permanent move.
"This morning many of our teams throughout Aotearoa have taken some time to get together to talk, share a physically distanced cup of tea, and support each other following yesterday’s event in our Lynnmall store.
"Our team is a family and when one of our stores is hurting, we all are. We’re very grateful to our customers who have supported our decision to open a little later, and for all the messages of support we have received last night and today.
"Our thoughts are with our customers who were injured and their families. We would also like to thank the emergency services for their support of our customers and team yesterday.
"Last night, we made the decision to temporarily remove all knives and scissors from our shelves while we consider whether we should continue to sell them.
"This is in no way a reflection on our customers, but an act of support for our team. We want all of our team to feel safe when they come to work, especially considering the events of yesterday."
11:57am - Messages of support have been pouring in from around the world for the victims of the attack.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted:
"Australia condemns the horrific terrorist attack in Auckland. Our thoughts are with all those affected. We stand with our Kiwi family in deploring all such violent acts designed to create fear and divide us. Kia kaha New Zealand."
Read all the tributes here
11:37am - a Countdown employee has tweeted the store she works in has removed knives from the shelves.
11:10am - The Prime Minister is expected to hold a press conference on the LynnMall attacker at 2pm. You can watch it live on Three or online.
11:00am - Stuff is reporting the LynnMall attacker never undertook a psychological assessment despite it being ordered by the courts.
He was also ordered to attend and engage in rehabilitative services, but Stuff reports that didn't happen either.
10:27am - Dr Wilson said it was important not to exaggerate the number of people who believe extremist ideologies.
"The numbers who subscribe to that ideology are small. We're not completely talking insignificant and tiny numbers I would imagine, but in terms of the numbers from within that group of supporters of those kinds of ideologies who actually go on to commit violence is very, very small in New Zealand society.
"It's lucky that this person was so open about their intentions… there are any number of people out there who talk about engaging in violence for ideological and other reasons, and it's very difficult to know exactly which ones are going to go on and act and carry it out."
10:20am - Dr Wilson said it was significant this was the first ISIS-inspired attack in New Zealand.
"It really shows the danger that kind of lone-actor grievance-fuelled violence can occur in New Zealand as it does elsewhere.
"One thing I'll say is I think we're quite lucky that this person, this perpetrator was so open about his views and intentions, and security agencies and the police were able to be on hand to prevent him doing more damage."
10:17am - Dr Chris Wilson, runs terrorism studies told Newshub Nation he believed the terrorist was inspired by ISIS
"We can't get inside the perpetrator's head, but almost certainly he was inspired by ISIS and to take revenge for what he sees as the killing of innocent Muslims overseas, which goes to the heart of ISIS propaganda and often to send a message to Western societies that your Government can't keep you safe, and to send a message to Western governments… they shouldn't be attacking Muslims overseas."
10:07am - Hurley told Newshub Nation the Crown last year tried to charge the attacker as a terrorist.
"Unfortunately the High Court said the legislation simply doesn't allow it. You can't charge someone with an offence of planning a terrorist attack, which is what the Crown was attempting to do.
"It really shows a bit of a loophole in the law where someone can plan a terrorist attack but can't be charged with an offence. The Crown and police really had their hands tied - they couldn't keep him in custody for much longer."
"To be honest, I had a gut feeling it was probably him immediately. It was exactly what he said he was going to do… it was a knife attack, which is exactly what he said he was going to do.
"So I had this horrible feeling it was probably going to be him. I knew that he had been spending his supervision sentence at a west Auckland mosque, so the location matched up as well. Unfortunately, as it transpired, it was this terrorist."
10:00am - The man had a knife at the time, arrested at Auckland Airport after buying one-way ticket to Singapore and it was believed he was on his way to Syria to fight for IS
"Police said they had intelligence that would show he had also spoken to a worshipper at an Auckland mosque where this man, this terrorist, had told the fellow worshipper that he intended to travel to Syria and fight for Islamic State," Hurley told Newshub
Police arrested him and several charges were laid, including possession of offensive material and weapon.
"Upon his release, almost immediately - the day after - he went and bought another large hunting knife, which then resulted in him being taken back into custody and facing further charges," Hurley said
"As you know, these legal proceedings can take years. That then progressed through to the trial which occurred this year, and he faced those additional charges… sentenced to more supervision in May and he was released."
09:49am - Hurley told Newshub Nation the man could have been radicalised in NZ.
"Potentially, it wasn't until 2016, in the autumn of 2016, when he started to post these radicalised extremist beliefs on his social media page.
"He was talking about sympathy for the terrorists who'd carried out the attacks in Paris and Brussels, and other such terror incidents around the world.
"From there he began to post more extreme material which included videos and scenes of graphic violence.
"Then probably of more concern to police was that he went and bought a large hunting knife. He did this twice - after the first knife was confiscated he went and bought an identical knife.
"These aren't your typical kitchen knives - these were large hunting knives that he would buy from a specialist shop."
09:47am - New Zealand Herald journalist Sam Hurley told Newshub Nation he has been researching the LynnMall attacker for four years and he was shocked when he heard the news.
"For the first few years while he was in New Zealand it didn't appear he had extremist beliefs whatsoever," Hurley said.
The man arrived in New Zealand in 2011.
"Then in 2016 he came to the attention of police and the authorities because of what he was posting on his Facebook page. Some of it was some pretty graphic material and showed some sympathy and allegiance towards Islamic State."
09:44am - A spokesperson for the US State Department has condemned the LynnMall terror attack.
Ned Price tweeted: "We condemn the terrorist attack in New Zealand today.
"The prompt response by New Zealand authorities helped save lives. The United States stands with our close partner and wishes the victims a speedy recovery."
09:27am - The name suppression order on the man behind the LynnMall terror attack has been lifted, but the terrorist's name can't be revealed yet the NZ Herald reports.
Justice Wylie said there was high public interest in the matter in New Zealand the NZ Herald reported.
Justice Wylie gave the man's family 24 hours to to seek suppression orders of their own.
09:17am - The imam of Christchurch's Al Noor Mosque says the terrorist who stabbed six people in west Auckland on Friday shouldn't have been let back into the community without some form of rehabilitation programme.
The 32-year-old Sri Lankan national had previously been arrested and found guilty of possessing Islamic State material, but was unable to be charged under terrorism legislation due to a loophole - planning an attack isn't currently against the law.
He was recently released from prison and was serving a sentence of a year's supervision when he carried out the attack.
"I wish that the police and the intelligence services could have given a rehabilitation programme for this person," Gamal Fouda, Imam at Christchurch's Al Noor Mosque told Newshub.
"He was under surveillance and they released him. I ask the question, did they coordinate with any imams to speak to the person?"
Al Noor was one of two mosques a gunman opened fire at in March 2019, killing more than 50 people.
Fouda said Friday reminded him of that dark day.
"It's time now to actually stand together once again and tell the terrorists they are not from us... this person is not representing any religion. They are representing hate and terrorism… There should be a program for rehabilitation of those people before sending them out into the community."
He said once again it was time to "be gracious to each other".
"My heart goes out to the victims. I wish we could visit them and assure them this person is not representing any religion. They are representing extremism. We are one again, and this is a horrible thing to happen in New Zealand once again."
Al Noor has set up a Givealittle page to raise funds for the victims and their families. At the time of writing on Saturday morning, it had already raised more than $6500.
09:00am - "This man has a history of violence and a history of being before the law courts for this type of behaviour," Collins told Newshub
"Quite clearly he stepped himself up another notch when it came to the implementation of that ideology. That is why we support the changes to the terrorism legislation.
"Ultimately this man should not have remained a citizen of New Zealand, he has come here from another country, developed a violent ideology and a hatred for New Zealand.
"He is not loyal to New Zealand and we should have legislation in place to strip him of his citizenship."
08:45am - National Party Judith Collins has called on the Immigration Minister to get tough on people who have been given a New Zealand citizenship and then go on to commit serious crimes.
Collins says they should be stripped otheir citizenship.
"We have suggested it would be a good idea if the Immigration Minister could strip the citizenship of people who come to New Zealand and commit violent offences," she told Newshub
"We believe when someone has committed a serious offence or served two or more terms in prison they should be stripped of their New Zealand citizenship."
Collins also offered her sympathies to everyone affected in the terror attack.
It is a terrible shock for everybody and particularly all of those who were in the Countdown supermarket who were going about their normal business buying groceries and were attacked, it is just appalling.
The Government has an anti-terrorism bill before a select committee at the moment and it seems to be stalled there for some reason.
I have told the Prime Minister National will support them to bring that bill forward in urgency.
08:34am - There has been no official update on the condition of the six victims of the terror attack. Three are in critical condition after being stabbed, one is in a serious condition and two others are moderate.
Police told Newshub "We are working at the moment to try and get updates on the victims' conditions.
"We'll include any update in any further media release done today."
08:27am - A witness has told Newshub the harrowing moment a man began a frenzied, Islamic State-inspired knife attack in west Auckland.
Shaneena Balasundram was just metres away from the attack, after coming face-to-face with the 32-year-old terrorist.
"I went to Countdown and I was going through the dairy/milk aisle and this guy out of nowhere just started stabbing this lady out of nowhere, who was also looking in the dairy/milk aisle."
"I'm so sorry I couldn't do much - I just froze. I wish I could do more… He stabbed her again, 'Allahu akbar, allahu akbar'... when he looked at me, he didn't seem to be interested in me."
08:18am - There is still a heavy police prescence at both LynnMall and the Masjid e Bilal mosque.