Following on from Jacinda Ardern’s shock announcement that the attack on six civilians was a terrorist action inspired by ISIS ideology the Herald has confirmed that the person involved had been the subject of intense institutional activity to curtail the threat that he clearly posed.
There was this article just last month in the Herald where Sam Hurley and Jared Savage provided some background of the individual including an analysis of the court proceedings. The article is in Premium so I won’t quote from it but this morning in a subsequent article Savage provided this background:
A High Court judge ruled that preparing a terrorist attack was not in itself an offence under the legislation, which he said could be described as an “Achilles heel” hindering the authorities’ abilities to stop such would-be attackers.
But Justice Matthew Downs dismissed the Crown’s application to charge S under the anti-terror law, saying it was for Parliament, not the courts, to create an offence of planning an attack.
Since then, the Labour government has proposed new anti-terror powers. The judgment was cited by government officials as one of the key events leading to the introduction of new anti-terror powers in April. The judge’s concerns were echoed by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch attacks when it presented its findings in November.
Labour’s new Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill, which passed its first reading in May, would make it a criminal offence to plan or prepare for a terrorist attack.
The man was subsequently sentenced to supervision on charges of possessing objectionable material and failing to assist a police officer exercising a search power. The sentence appears on the face of it to be lenient, even for the offences involved, but it must be remembered that S had spent three years in custody pending trial.
He was sentenced on July 6, 2021. The sentencing decision makes it clear that supervision was imposed only because he had spent so much time in custody. And the Judge clearly was placed in a dilemma, keep him in custody until he is released untreated, or attempt to rehabilitate him by imposing supervision.
The Counter Terrorism Legislation Bill was introduced during April, 2021. It includes provisions criminalising planning or preparation for a terrorism action. The Department Disclosure Statement says:
The amendments … provide agencies with a range of tools that reflect the evolving nature of terrorism and violent extremism. In doing so they are part of the Government’s initial response to the Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Terrorist Attack on Christchurch Mosques on 15 March 2019. The Bill implements part of Recommendation 18 of that report. Recommendation 18 recommended, among other things, prioritising the creation of precursor terrorism offences in the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.
For completion recommendation 18 urged the Government to “[r]eview all legislation related to the counter-terrorism effort (including the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 and the Intelligence and Security Act 2017) to ensure it is current and enables Public sector agencies to operate effectively, prioritising consideration of the creation of precursor terrorism offences in the Terrorism Suppression Act, the urgent review of the effect of section 19 of the Intelligence and Security Act on target discovery and acceding to and implementing the Budapest Convention.”
The bill is currently at the select committee stage and is due to be reported back to Parliament in November.
The individual’s details are not available but I presume that he has been granted citizenship. There will be an attempt for us to adopt Australia’s laws which allow for the stripping of citizenship of people who the Minister considers to have either fought for terrorist organisations or engaged in disallegient conduct. Criminal convictions are not required.
This was foreshadowed earlier in the case of Suhayra Aden. I described her background in this way:
There is a poor lost soul who is both a New Zealand and Australian citizen who in 2014 chose to travel to the Middle East to be part of a community supportive of Islamic State. Her name is Suhayra Aden. She has spent most of her life in Australia but was born in New Zealand and has dual citizenship. She has two children who were born in the Middle East but who are also New Zealand citizens.
Using its reprehensible citizenship stripping law Australia has taken away her Australian citizenship leaving her to be New Zealand’s problem. They did this even though she left Australia for Syria in 2014 before the law was in force. The decision has caused some fraying of the Trans Tasman relationship. And the New Zealand Government has agreed to accept her and her children back into the country, essentially because it had no choice.
At the time Judith Collins expressed cautious support for New Zealand to amend its laws to reflect the Australian approach. I suspect they will now go hard on this issue. There are powers in the Citizenship Act to remove citizenship but the powers are limited.
Collins has offered to cooperate to have the Counter Terrorism Legislation Bill returned immediately to Parliament so that it can be passed. The provisions are complex and despite this current tragedy it is important that Parliament gets the bill right.
An application to have suppression relating to S’s case lifted by the High Court has been filed. The order has been granted but publication has been suspended to allow for any appeals. I suspect the timeline will make a few former Ministers squirm.
Meanwhile over at the Sewer they are having a usual one. One commentator, who has previous convictions for stealing the identity of a dead baby, has said that “the Islamist creed is, at its very core, totally incompatible with our way of life”. Shame on him. And shame on Farrar for allowing this comment to be made.
And over at the Daily Blog Martyn has claimed bizarrely that the Green Party blamed all white people for the Christchurch Terrorist attack. He then says identity politics divides and without a hint of irony says hate and vengeance begets more hate and vengeance. Clearly we should all adopt love and inclusion as guiding principles, unless that is you are a member of the Green Party.
Hang on to your hats. This could get ugly.