A ‘violent extremist’ who was ‘inspired by ISIS’ and on a terror watchlist has been shot dead by police in an Auckland supermarket after stabbing at least six people in an ‘out of control’ rampage.
Six people have been left fighting for life in hospitals across New Zealand’s north island on Friday afternoon while the knifeman died inside the Countdown supermarket in New Lynn, in the city’s south.
Three of the victims were described as ‘critical’ with neck and chest wounds.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed on Friday the 32-year-old Sri Lankan national, known only as ‘S’ for legal reasons, was considered one of the nation’s most dangerous extremists and was watched 24/7 since 2016. He arrived in New Zealand in 2011.
‘What happened today was despicable, hateful and wrong,’ she said. ‘It was carried out by an individual, not a faith or religion. He was gripped by violent and ISIS inspired ideology that is not supported here.’
A surveillance team and special tactics group monitored the man at all times and plain clothes officers were able to respond in 60 seconds when he launched his attack on Friday afternoon.
It is understood the man obtained a knife from within the store, and detectives were so close they ‘heard’ the commotion.
Six people were rushed to hospitals across New Zealand’s north island on Friday afternoon while the knifeman died inside the Countdown supermarket in New Lynn
Due to suppression orders that are already in place, the prime minister says there is information about the man’s identity and details of his past criminal history that cannot yet be revealed.
She vowed to share any further details that she could ‘within the confines of the law’ if the court lifted suppression orders in the wake of his death.
‘There are not many people who fall into this category. He was known to our national security agencies, was of concern and was being monitored constantly. There are very few people that fall into this category,’ Ms Ardern said.
She reiterated that if the offender had commit a crime in the past that would have allowed authorities to put him in prison, ‘that’s where he would have been’.
‘The reason he was in the community is because within the law we could not put him anywhere else. His past behaviour was, within the threshold of the law, not enough to put him in prison.’
Due to suppression orders that are already in place, the prime minister says there is information about the man’s identity (pictured) and past that cannot yet be revealed
The 32-year-old offender reportedly landed himself on terror watchlists after twice buying hunting knives and being found to possess Islamic State propaganda videos, NZHerald reported.
Just last month, he was sentenced to a one year supervision order for possessing propaganda videos created by the Islamic State that promoted terrorism.
He had reportedly performed internet searches asking about the guidelines of ‘lone-wolf mujahideen’, knife attacks and prison conditions in New Zealand.
After receiving a formal warning from police, ‘S’ reportedly made a social media post which read: ‘One day I will go back to my country and I will find Kiwi scums in my country… and I will show them… what will happen when you mess with S while I’m in their country. If you’re tough in your country… we are tougher in our country scums.’
‘S’ had reportedly told worshipers in his mosque that he intended to join ISIS and was arrested at Auckland Airport in May 2017 after booking a one-way ticket to Singapore.
The outlet revealed he had only recently been released from prison after a High Court judge ruled preparing a terrorist attack was not equitable to performing a terrorist act and sentenced him on a lesser charge.
The day after he walked free from prison, ‘S’ purchased yet another hunting knife. He was arrested again, but was not prosecuted under the strict terrorism laws.
Disturbing footage of the attack was shared online, showing customers running to safety as at least 10 police units swarmed the surrounding streets.
Six people were left fighting for life in hospitals across New Zealand’s north island on Friday afternoon while the knifeman died inside the Countdown supermarket in New Lynn
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed on Friday the Sri Lankan national was an extremist who was on terrorism watch since 2016
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed on Friday the 32-year-old Sri Lankan national (pictured) was considered one of the nation’s most dangerous extremists and was watched 24/7 since 2016. He arrived in New Zealand in 2011
‘Holy f**k. Oh my God… Someone is in there with a knife, somebody has been stabbed,’ a woman said in the footage
A witness said people were ‘running out, hysterically, just screaming, yelling, scared’ as an elderly man laid injured on the floor and a middle-aged woman was stabbed in the shoulder.
The offender was reportedly acting ‘like a lunatic’ and indiscriminately lunging at anybody in his path, the witness said.
Another woman said she heard police ordering the offender to surrender before five gunshots rang out.
Two officers were involved in shooting him dead.
The three victims who remain in a critical condition were rushed to Auckland City hospital along with a fourth person in a serious condition.
‘ISIS INSPIRED’ TERRORIST’S CRIMINAL PAST
The knifeman who was shot dead in a Countdown supermarket on Friday was known to police and politicians for his extremist views, which were largely inspired by terror group, ISIS.
The man, known only as ‘S’ due to High Court suppression orders, arrived in New Zealand in 2011 from Sri Lanka and was first placed on the terror watchlist in 2016 after authorities were alerted to extremist posts he made on social media.
Some of the videos he shared online depicted war-related violence, a clear approval of violent extremism and pledging his support for ISIS, New Zealand Herald reported.
He received an official warning by police but continued to post the material, including a comment which read: ‘One day I will go back to my country and I will find kiwi scums in my country… and I will show them… what will happen when you mess with S while I’m in their country. If you’re tough in your country… we are tougher in our country scums #payback’.
‘S’ reportedly told a worshiper at a mosque that he hoped to join ISIS in Syria and was detained at Auckland International Airport in 2017 after booking a one-way flight to Singapore.
He spent a year in custody before pleading guilty to distributing restricted material, earning a supervision order in 2018.
The day after he was released from prison, ‘S’ was arrested by counterterrorism police who followed him as he purchased a hunting knife.
Internet search history reportedly found he’d researched how to kill ‘non-believers’.
Police hoped to prosecute ‘S’ under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, but it was determined that preparing a terrorist attack was not an offence under the legislation, given he had not carried out any attacks.
He was prosecuted on lesser charges of possessing propaganda in support of ISIS.
During his trial, ‘S’ reportedly told the jury: ‘You’re worried about one knife, I am telling you I will buy 10 knives. It’s about my rights.’
At least 10 police units were quickly on the scene and surrounded the shopping precinct before the knifeman was shot dead
Roads near the area have been blocked by officers, who are still investigating
One victim in a stable condition was taken to Waitakere Hospital while another was rushed to Middlemore Hospital.
Two of the victims were rushed straight into emergency abdominal surgery.
At least 20 frantic Countdown customers fled to safety at nearby Unichem Pharmacy, which was already brimming with about 45 patients waiting to get their Covid jab.
Staff immediately locked the doors and called for help.
‘It wasn’t a nice scenario. Everyone was pretty shocked and worried, but everybody is fine,’ a staff member said.
At least 10 police units were quickly on the scene and surrounded the shopping precinct before the knifeman was shot dead.
Roads in and out of the area were blocked off and helicopters are circling nearby.
Customers fled the supermarket and witnesses reported chaotic scenes as police shot the knifeman dead
Kiri Hannifin, Countdown supermarket’s general manager of safety, released a statement on Friday afternoon stating her ‘heart was heavy knowing what our team and customers have witnessed’.
‘We are particularly devastated that something like this has happened again in one of our stores. It’s difficult to comprehend and the events of today leave our whole team in deep shock,’ she said.
‘The safety of our team, and our customers, is always our priority, and this is at the heart of our COVID-19 response as well. We will cooperate with the Police in any way we can to understand what’s happened, and at this point we’re unable to provide any further details.’
The store will be closed until further notice.