Police in New Zealand has killed a violent extremist who carried out an ‘ISIS inspired’ terror attack on a shopping mall, stabbing multiple people.
The incident occurred at New Lynn supermarket in New Zealand City on Friday, September 3. Local reports say out of the six patients taken to the hospital, three are critical, one is in a serious condition, and two are in moderate condition.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said the attacker was a ‘violent extremist’ known to authorities. Arden said he was a Sri Lankan national who had been living in the country since 2011.
‘A violent extremist undertook a terrorist attack on innocent New Zealanders.
‘This was someone who was known to our national security agencies and was of concern and was being monitored constantly. There are very few that fall into this category.’
The PM said the man was a ‘lone wolf’ who supported ISIS. The 32-year-old was already under 24/7 surveillance, and officers tailing him thought he had gone into the supermarket to do some shopping when he suddenly launched an attack.
Arden also said any backlash against the Muslim community ‘would be wrong,’ as the attacker ‘is who is responsible and no one else.’
‘What happened today was despicable, it was hateful, it was wrong. It was carried out by an individual, not a faith.’
A shopper Michelle Miller told Stuff that the man pulled out a large knife and started “running around like a “lunatic,” stabbing people.
The police said officers shot and killed the man within 60 seconds of the violent rampage beginning.
While the suspect has not been formally identified, the attacker, dubbed ‘S,’ is reported to be a 32-year-old man who had been considered a threat to public safety after twice buying large hunting knives and possessing Islamic State videos.
A newspaper, which pictured ‘S’ posing with guns, said he was convicted of possessing propaganda-style material supportive of Islamic State just this May. However, he was reportedly cleared of other charges of possessing a graphic video depicting a prisoner being decapitated and possession of an offensive weapon.
The trial was reportedly told of his sinister internet searches for videos detailing how to make explosives, “lone-wolf mujahideen,” searches for a hunting knife, camouflage pants, ISIS garb, and NZ prison clothes and food.
During his trial, ‘S’ is said to have told the jury;
“You’re worried about one knife, I am telling you I will buy 10 knives. It’s about my rights.”
It was reported that he caught authorities’ attention as far back as 2016, in repeated anti-western and violent social media posts, including support for ISIS terror attacks in Europe.
Despite being given a formal warning by police, he is reported to have posted on Facebook threatening to one day return to Sri Lanka and “find Kiwi scums.”
Herald reported that authorities could only monitor him after a bid to prosecute ‘S’ under terror laws failed when a judge ruled that preparing a terrorist attack was not in itself an offense under NZ’s legislation.
An eyewitness, Brittany Denyer, said she was about to park up to enter the shop when she said police officers ran up to her and urged her to “hurry up and evacuate immediately.”
“People were panicking, and it was a gridlock trying to get out of New Lynn. Police and ambulances [were] everywhere.
“I was told by another police officer while I was waiting to be diverted that someone had been stabbed.
“Police cars kept arriving and people were running away from the mall trying to get out of the area.
“I am very thankful I didn’t arrive five minutes earlier as I would’ve been inside. It would have been so scary for anyone inside the mall.”
NZ Police Commissioner Andrew Coster told reporters armed officers monitoring the attacker rounded on him within seconds of his rampage beginning.
Special tactical operators ‘engaged’ him then shot and killed him after brandishing the knife at them, the commissioner confirmed. Police confirmed the knifeman died at the scene shortly after launching his attack at around 2.40 pm local time on Friday.
It came at a heightened time of anxiety for Aucklanders as the North Island city of 1.6million has been plunged into New Zealand’s strictest level of lockdown once again.