Extremist’s attack in Auckland: Sri Lanka ready to assist New Zealand

By Asiri Fernando

The Police have begun to gather information about the “Islamic State”-inspired Sri Lankan extremist who carried out the knife attack in Auckland, New Zealand (NZ) last Friday (3).

The move by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) comes as the Sri Lankan Government indicated their willingness to assist in any investigation by the New Zealand authorities if a request is made.

“Sri Lanka condemns this senseless violence and stands ready to co-operate with New Zealand authorities in any way necessary. While commending the quick response of the New Zealand authorities in dealing with this attacker, Sri Lanka wishes a speedy recovery to those injured during the horrific incident,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Sugeeshwara Gunaratna told The Sunday Morning.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Sri Lanka has sought more information about the incident from New Zealand.

According to the Police, no official information regarding the attacker had been received from New Zealand as of last evening (4).

Speaking to the press on Friday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that the attacker, who had been under 24-hour surveillance, could not be named due to legal reasons.

“What happened today was despicable; it was hateful, it was wrong,” Premier Ardern said after the attack. “It was carried out by an individual – not a faith, not a culture, not an ethnicity. He alone carries the responsibility for these acts.”

However, the attacker was later named as Ahamed Aathil Mohamed Samsudeen, a 32-year-old Sri Lankan who entered New Zealand in 2011, after a ban on identifying the attacker due to his refugee status was lifted by a High Court judge in New Zealand. Samsudeen had been granted refugee status in 2013 and had been arrested and jailed several times after.

The New Zealand Herald reported that immigration officials had sought to revoke his refugee status in 2018, but he appealed and a final decision had yet to be made on whether he could be deported.

It is alleged that Samsudeen stabbed five persons in a shopping complex, leaving three of them in critical condition, before he was shot dead by New Zealand police officers.

When asked about the attacker’s motive, PM Ardern said that “it was a violent ideology and ISIS-inspired”.

The Sri Lankan Muslim community and other organisations have condemned the attack.