An Islamic State (ISIS)-inspired extremist who attacked shoppers in a New Zealand supermarket on Friday had been fighting deportation for immigration fraud, The Associated Press reported on Sunday.
The attacker, Ahamed Samsudeen, 32, arrived in New Zealand 10 years ago on a student visa. A Tamil Muslim, he applied for refugee status on the basis of being persecuted in Sri Lanka, where a civil war ended in 2009 with the defeat of a Tamil rebel group, according to the report.
Immigration New Zealand declined his application, but he won his appeal, gaining permanent residency in 2014.
Police first noticed Samsudeen’s online support for terrorism in 2016 and by the following year, immigration agents knew he wanted to fly to Syria to join ISIS. They began reviewing his immigration status, fearing he could be a threat.
In 2018, Samsudeen was jailed after he was found with Islamic State videos and knives. The following year, his refugee status was canceled after authorities found evidence of fraud.
“My understanding is that in the process of investigation into the terrorist, it was discovered that some of the documents that he had used in order to get his refugee status looked to have been fabricated,” Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said Sunday, according to AP.
Samsudeen appealed, triggering a lengthy process that automatically allowed him to stay in New Zealand until his appeal was heard.
Immigration authorities tried to argue he should remain behind bars, but in July, Samsudeen was set free.
Six people were injured in Friday’s stabbing attack. New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the stabbing was "a terrorist attack," and noted the perpetrator had been under surveillance for approximately five years.