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Terrorist came to NZ in 2011 on student visa

1 NEWS' live updates have concluded for the day. Scroll down to catch up on developments following the terrorist attack at Countdown LynnMall on Friday.

Police guard the area around Countdown LynnMall after a terrorist carried out a stabbing rampage on Friday, September 3. Source: Getty

About 2.40pm on Friday, a man, who was being monitored by police as a threat, attacked multiple people at Auckland's LynnMall with a knife.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

  • The man was killed by police at Countdown LynnMall on Friday after taking a knife from the supermarket shelves and attacking people inside the store.
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the stabbing an "extremist attack" on people at the West Auckland Countdown supermarket. She said the terrorist was motivated by "violent ideology and ISIS-inspired".
  • Seven people were injured in the attack, five are in hospital, three in a critical condition. The victims are in Auckland City, Waitākere and Middlemore hospitals.
  • The terrorist had entered New Zealand in 2011 and became a person of interest in 2016 after his engagement with violent extremist content. He was a Sri Lankan national.
  • Anyone with photos or video of Friday’s incident has been urged by police to submit it to their investigation. An online portal has been set up and can be accessed here.
  • The attack came during Auckland's Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown due the Delta outbreak.

3.20pm: Ardern has conveyed a message from the Imam of Al Noor mosque, "who knows the impact of terrorism better than anyone".

She said, “all terrorists are the same, regardless of their ideology…..they stand for hate, we stand for peace and love.”

We have it within our powers to ensure that the actions of an individual do not create a knock on of hate, judgment and vitriol.

I know New Zealand you will be kind, please wrap your arms around all of our victims.
 

3.17pm: Coster says no one will "ever know" if the attack was opportunistic or pre-planned. 

The seventh person injured was discovered overnight and self-treated at home. Coster said no one was injured as a result of police actions. 

3.14pm: Arderns says there are very few people in New Zealand that would fit into this category similar to the terrorist shot on Friday.

3.07pm: Ardern says a law change may not have made a difference to Friday's attack given he was a "highly motivated' individual.

She says "successive governments" did not instigate counter-terrorism policy change work, "we did". 

3.03pm: Ardern has thanked police for their "tireless" work in relation to managing the offender and who at times had up to 30 people involved in monitoring the terrorist. She thanked the public for their assitance at the scene.

She acknowledged the Auckland community, saying "times are tough" but says "we are all with you". 

3.00pm: Arderns says she wants stronger counter terrorism laws "as a soon as possible and no later than the end of this month". She wants it to progress through Parliament as soon as it resumes.

National has said it would support the changes.

New Zealand currently has proposed changes to counter-terrorism laws going through Parliament, it passed its first reading in May and is sitting at Select Committee stage.

2.50pm: Ardern says she was given an update on the case in late July. In August she said she met with officials to try and mitigate the risk the man posed to society. Yesterday, the same day as the attack, Ardern was meeting with officials over fast-tracking the amendment of counter-terrorism legislation. 

2.45pm:  In May 2021, 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.

PM wants counter terrorism law changes passed this month

In July 2021 he was sentenced to 12 months supervision with a number of conditions. He was subject to random police checks of his phone. Electronic monitoring was sought by the Crown but not successfully accepted by the court. 

After all legal avenues to deal with the offender were exhausted he was released into the community in mid-July under supervision after spending three years on remand. 

2.37pm: Ardern says a draft Bill to change the law was introduced in April 2021, its first reading was in May. She said concerns remained over the man and officials met to address the risks posed by him. 

She said she sought advice on if prevention orders could be used or if the man could have his psychological state examined but the offender refused the latter and prevention orders could not be issued.

2.32pm: In September 2018 ministers were briefed and officials were instructed to undertake further policy work in relation to counter-terrorism legislation. Work progressed over 2019 which included policy work which involved being able to criminalise actes related those who had terrorism intentions or plans. 

2.27pm: Ardern says the terrorist while on bail bought a knife in August 2018. He was arrested again and police also found objectionable or "extremist material" after executing a search warrant. He was then charged with additional charges. He was kept in custody and in September 2018 was sentenced in relation to the initial charges to 12 months supervision. He remained in prison due to the additional charges filed when he was on bail. 

2.24pm: A timeline of the offender's past in New Zealand is being provided. 

The terrorist who committed Friday's attack at Countdown in Lynnmall arrived on a student visa in 2011, he was aged 22. The man was arrested twice prior to yesterday’s attack whilst in New Zealand

In 2016 he came to the attention to police after expressing sympathy to recent terrorist attacks, sharing violent war videos. He was spoken to by police for the first time in April 2016 and then again in May.

The activity continued and in May 2017 he was arrested at Auckland International Airport, believed to be heading to Syria. A search of his apartment found restricted publications and a hunting knife. He was charged with possessing them, pleaded guilty to knowingly distributing restricted publications, fraud and failing to assist police in the execution of their search powers. He was released on bail.

2.15pm: Ardern says she is unable to release the name of the offender but says she had no “intention” of sharing it anyway.  “No terrorist whether alive or deceased deserves their name to be shared for the infamy for which they were seeking,” she says.
 

2.10pm: Coster says the terrorism threat for New Zealand remains at medium.

He said there will be high visibility patrols in areas where large numbers of people gather. He also said he wanted the public to exercise “careful judgement” over what they believe in relation to the incident.

Coster said he wanted to make clear the case was an “outlier” and police are not looking for any one else relating to the attack.
 

2.07pm: Police Commissioner Andrew Coster is also providing detail on the attack and said the offenders actions yesterday appeared that he was shopping normally.

He said the man entered the store at 2.27pm but the first stabbing shown via CCTV happened 60-90 seconds before police were able to be at the scene.

He said the team involved in surveilling the man are “highly skilled” but because the man had a “high level of paranoia” about being followed, police remained at the store entrance yesterday.

2.03pm: Jacinda Ardern is holding a press conference to update details on the offender who was shot in Friday’s terrorist attack. 

Ardern says seven people were injured in the attack, five are in hospital, three in a critical condition.

1.54pm: The United Sri Lanka Association has released a statement, addressing Jacinda Ardern and condemning the attack on Friday.

Dear Madam Prime Minister,

As a New Zealander , I join you and the rest of New Zealand in unreservedly condemning today’s (3/9/21) , terrorist attack in Auckland that injured several.

As a New Zealander of Sri Lankan origin, I condemn this even more as our two thousand five hundred year heritage and culture has largely been moulded by Buddhist teachings of non violence, where terror has no place. On the other hand this man’s terrorism, as you revealed, has been influenced by ISIS ideology, which is entirely foreign to Sri Lankan origins. In todays reporting unfortunately, when references were made to this man, his Sri Lankan origin was given much more prominence than his ISIS heritage. This was what mattered . Many of us of Sri Lankan origin feel aggrieved by this as it cast aspersions on us while the ISIS that drove him lay largely concealed.

I write therefore to convey this concern of ours to you as our Prime Minister so that in future such references may be more tempered to reflect reality.

1.13pm: There are 20 new Covid-19 cases in the community on Saturday, bringing the total number in the Auckland Delta outbreak to 782.

As well, there was one death to report, a woman in her 90s who had underlying health conditions.

1pm: Foodstuffs stores have removed sharp knives from sale.

"Our thoughts are with the Countdown team and customers injured and affected by the terrible event at LynnMall yesterday. Everyone deserves to be able to go to work and visit essential services like the supermarket safely," Foodstuffs NZ head of corporate affairs Antoinette Laird says.

The move comes after Countdown earlier Saturday announced all knives and scissors had been temporarily removed from it's stores nationwide. The supermarket chain is considering whether it should continue to sell them.

A parking lot of a supermarket that was the site of a knife attack sits empty in Auckland. Source: Associated Press

12.55pm: There’s been an urgent court hearing at the Auckland District Court this morning, dealing with the issue of name suppression for the man who was shot dead by police.

1 NEWS reporters Laura James and Ashleigh Yates were in court and provided this update:

It's the second emergency court hearing since the terror incident yesterday.

The man was facing charges in the District Court, which the Crown is seeking to withdraw following his death.

His name had been suppressed for those charges, in line with an existing name suppression order made in 2018 in relation to proceedings in the High Court in Auckland.

All suppression is set to lapse at 11pm Saturday, subject to any opposition from the terrorist's family.

Lawyer Davoud Mansouri-Rad appeared on their behalf this morning; he said he's awaiting their instructions.

He said the family weren't aware of the incident until he spoke to them at 11pm Friday.

12.50pm: It's been confrimed that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will speak to media about the attack at 2pm.

Watch live on TVNZ1, 1news.co.nz and at the 1 NEWS Facebook page.

12.20pm: Countdown stores around the country are temporarily removing all knives and scissors from its shelves while the supermarket chain considers whether it 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," Countdown’s general manager of safety Kiri Hannifin says.

"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."

12.15pm: The Islamic Women's Council New Zealand says it's "shocked and saddened" by the attack.

"The people of Aotearoa New Zealand came together in an exemplary way after the attacks on Christchurch mosques. Our response was a considered a model globally. We are confident that New Zealanders will come together again to respond to hate, in whatever form it takes."

Armed police outside Auckland's Lynn Mall following a terrorist attack. Source: Associated Press

11.58am: Just a note about New Zealand's Covid-19 Delta outbreak. There will be no 1pm press conference today. The latest Covid-19 numbers will be released in a statement and we'll publish the numbers here on 1news.co.nz as soon as they come to hand.

The Prime Minister however is expected to give a press conference this afternoon with more information on the terrorist attack. You can watch the press conference live on 1news.co.nz, Facebook and on TVNZ1.

11.05am: Shoppers at Auckland's Countdown Greenlane on Saturday told 1 NEWS they are not nervous getting groceries, despite Friday's attack.

"A bit of a shocking situation, I don't know why the people at the supermarket were targetted but I think Covid causes lots of stresses and maybe this is a reflection of it," one customer said.

"But a sad outcome and I hope everyone's well and recovering quicker."

Another shopper said he was pleased with the response from police on Friday.

"I was pretty impressed really that the police were that close and they were able to deal with the situation pretty quickly," he said.

"I think that's pretty much that's probably the best you could do in that situation other than throwing him in prison."

10.45am: University of Otago law professor Andrew Geddis told RNZ a proposed legislation making it an offence to plan a terrorist attack would not have necessarily made a difference in Friday's attack at LynnMall.

The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill was introduced earlier this year as part of the ongoing response to the March 15 Christchurch mosque attacks, but Geddis says even if the new offence had been law, it would not have applied in this case because it doesn't have retrospective effect.

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An extremist injured six people at a Countdown in the mall on September 3. Source: 1 NEWS

10.20am: Deputy Prime Minsiter Grant Robertson says he's struggling to find the words to respond to the "horrific terrorist attack".

"This is another time for our community to come together to reject hate and prejudice," he wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday morning.

"My first thoughts are with the victims and their families. I hope they know they are wrapped in the aroha of the whole country at this time. And to those who were there, especially the workers, police and those close by, we know this will a tough time and we thank you for your courage."

9.30am: The High Court has confirmed to 1 NEWS that name suppression for the terrorist has now lifted, meaning his name could be revealed as early as 11pm tonight, after Justice Edwin Wylie's ruling late on Friday night.

read more
Auckland terrorist previously convicted of possessing ISIS propaganda

9.20am: "If a terrorist attack were to be committed in NZ in the next 12 months, we think it would most likely be carried out by an extremist lone actor without any detectable forewarning," SIS Director General Rebecca Kitteridge said in June.

9.15am: LynnMall Pharmacy is closed Saturday.

"We pray for the people and their family that are affected by this [attack]," it wrote on Facebook.

"If any of our patients need anything urgently, please contact our sister store Home Pharmacy Grey Lynn 092812812 at 280 Richmond Rd. The team there will be able to help you."

8.35am: Sri Lankan Society of New Zealand president Faleel Gaffoor says he is "deeply saddened" by Friday's terrorist attack.

"A terrorist who attacks innocent and defenceless people is not one of us ... this horrific act has no place in any religion, race or ethnicity."

read more
NZ Sri Lankan Society 'wholeheartedly condemns' terrorist attack

8.30am: Journalist Jean Bell spoke to RNZ with Kim Hill from New Lynn on Saturday morning.

She says it’s a “very still and eerie scene. Police vehicles have blocked off all entrances to the carpark”.

At least one of the police officers is armed.

Police are also guarding the Masjid e Bilal mosque in nearby Glen Eden.

8am: National leader Judith Collins says it's time for the Government to initiate a process that would remove New Zealand citizenship or residency from a person who commits a violent act in New Zealand following Friday's attack.

"National believes if you commit a dangerous crime then you should not get to keep your citizenship or residency. It is a privilege, not a right."

7.27am: Labour MP for New Lynn Deborah Russell told RNZ she's been in touch with the union representing the supermarket staff. She said they were shocked by the incident but are being supported. 

While the community cannot gather to support each other due to Covid-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions, Russell also shared contacts for mental health services on her Facebook page for anyone struggling.

Armed police officer outside Auckland's LynnMall, Saturday 4 September. Source: 1 NEWS

6.50am: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to give an update on the terrorist attack sometime Saturday.

6.40am: Countdown supermarkets nationwide will open at the later time of 10am Saturday following the terrorist attack at the LynnMall store.

6.20am: New Zealand's anti-terrorism legislation is coming into sharp review following the shocking Auckland supermarket terrorist attack.

6am: A Givealittle page for victims has been set up by the Muslim Association of Canterbury. It has already raised over $4500.