Kiwi terrorist in transnational crime unit's scope

The Samoa Transnational Crimes Unit is gathering information on how a man who perpetrated a frenzied knife wielding terrorist attack last Friday in Auckland, was able to travel to Samoa in 2016 - a time when he was already on New Zealand's terror watch list.

Sri Lankan national Ahamed Aathil Mohamed Samsudeen was shot dead by New Zealand police following a knife attack in an Auckland supermarket, which left seven people injured.

The New Zealand Government described the incident as a terror attack due to his links to Islamic State.

The Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo said the data collection on the perpetrator is being carried out by the Interpol unit.

“We have asked [Samoa Transnational Crimes Unit to find the information of how he got here, where did he stay and what he was doing and did we get advice from New Zealand,” said Agafili.

“Once we get that information we will present it to the Prime Minister and get back to the media on it.”

Earlier this week the N.Z. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (M.F.A.T) says there was no information to suggest that Samsudeen was any security risk at the time he came to Samoa.  

“Entry into Samoa (including the granting of visas) is managed by the Government of Samoa, not New Zealand,” said the Ministry’s spokesperson.

“There was no information to suggest that the perpetrator was a security risk to Samoa in relation to his 2016 travel there.

“New Zealand has been in touch with Samoa on this matter through our respective High Commissions.”

A High Court of New Zealand judgment dated 25 June 2018, in a matter where the now-deceased 32-year-old was the applicant, made reference to a trip that he took to Samoa for four days in November 2016. 

“To the latter criticism, Mr Steele responded that [redacted] was still available, would be called to give evidence by AVL and, significantly, that many of his statements had been corroborated by evidence subsequently obtained,” reads the Court judgement.

“For example, Mr Samsudeen had travelled to Samoa for four days in November 2016 and had made enquiries with the Department of Internal Affairs to obtain travel documents and to enquire as to the countries he was able to travel to.

“When the Police executed a search warrant they found a 31 centimetre hunting knife under his bed.”

There is no further mention of the trip in the five-page judgement.

According to NewsHub, Samsudeen was able to leave New Zealand in 2016 even after being placed on the terror watch list.

The Samoa Observer reached out to Mohammed at the Vaiusu Mosque on Monday but he disputed whether Samsudeen had even come to Samoa at all and the truth of media reports. 

"This person didn't come to Samoa," he said.

"You can find out from Immigration."

"You can check Immigration if it's true that he came to Samoa."

Mohammed said that if Samsudeen did come to Samoa then he probably went to some other place, he then added: "But this person didn't come to Samoa."

He also said that there are no Sri Lankans in Samoa, just Muslims of Pakistani and Bengali origins

He said if Samsudeen did come to Samoa, he would have visited the Mosque, he said.

One of the employees at the Car Dealer in front of the Mosque, a Pakistani national, told the Samoa Observer he knows of no Sri Lankan national or community in Samoa.

(Muslims in Sri Lanka, a mostly Buddhist country, constitute less than 10 per cent of the population

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