After knife attack, New Zealand declares terror conspiracy a crime
New Zealand politicians on Thursday passed a law that makes plotting a terrorist attack a crime, addressing a legal loophole that sparked investigations following a knife attack in early September.
The new law had taken months to plan, but it was hurried through parliament after an extremist inspired by the Islamic State terrorist group grabbed a knife and stabbed shoppers in an Auckland supermarket on 3 September. In the commotion, five were injured, while two others were injured.
Police officers shot and killed the attacker, Ahmed Ethil Mohamed Samsudin, after they said they confronted him at the supermarket and he attacked them with a knife. Officers had been following him for weeks, concerned that he had planned to attack any time after he was released from prison in July. However, the police could not find any legal reason to take him into custody.
A year ago, prosecutors unsuccessfully tried to charge Sri Lankan national Mr Samsoodin with terrorism after he bought a large hunting knife and was found with violent Islamic State videos.
Prosecutors argued that there was evidence that he had purchased the knife with the intention of killing people and furthering an ideological cause. But a judge ruled that the act of buying the knife was not enough to move the case forward.
The judge found that New Zealand’s anti-terrorism laws did not specifically cover the plots. At the time the judge acknowledged that “it may have been an Achilles’ heel,” adding that it was not up to a court to make new laws.
After the attacks on September 3, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed to pass new legislation by the end of the month. He said even before the attack, his government had started trying to speed up the process of passing the bill.
But Ms. Ardern also said that even if the new law had been enacted, it might not have stopped Mr. Samsudin.
“This bill strengthens our anti-terrorism laws to better prevent and respond,” said Ginny Anderson, a lawmaker from the governing Labor Party. “And these changes will also enable the police to intervene earlier. If it saves lives, and makes New Zealanders safer, I believe that’s a good thing.”
The Conservative National Party joined the vote on Thursday in favor of the bill, which rose to 22 by 98 votes. But some of Ms Ardern’s traditional liberal aides in parliament voted against it.
The Green Party said its members were concerned that the law had been passed without adequate consultation, and expanded the definition of terrorism to the extent that it was at risk, including “direct action, activism and protest”.
The Greens said they were also concerned that some experts had characterized the new crime as a “thought crime” as well as the powers allowing authorities to conduct warrantless searches that threaten human rights abuses. extended.
The new offense of planning a terrorist attack comes with a maximum prison term of seven years. The bill also criminalises weapons or combat training for carrying out an attack or traveling to or from New Zealand and for a terroristic attack.
Ms Ardern is also investigating whether changes to New Zealand deportation laws and policies are needed in light of the fact that authorities revoked Mr Samsuddin’s refugee status in 2019 on the grounds of fraud and he Ordered to be sent back to Sri Lanka. Mr Samsudin’s appeal was still pending when he launched his attack.
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