Chilling video captured the frantic moments shoppers at a New Zealand supermarket ran for their lives Friday when an ISIS-inspired attacker stabbed six people before being shot dead by undercover police who had been tailing him.
“There’s somebody here with a knife … he’s got a knife,” the person shooting the video is heard saying as the chaos unfolds at the Countdown supermarket in Auckland, the country’s largest city. “Holy f—-! What the f—-!”
The assailant — a known ISIS sympathizer from Sri Lanka – was shot dead just 60 seconds into his rampage about 2:40 p.m. local time by police who had been monitoring him.
Witnesses said the man shouted “Allahu akbar” — “God is great” — and started stabbing random shoppers, sending people running and screaming.
Three of the shoppers were rushed to hospitals in critical condition, police said. Another was in serious condition, while two more were in moderate condition.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who described the incident as a terror attack, said the attacker, who arrived in New Zealand in 2011, was inspired by ISIS and was well known to law enforcement.
She said she had been briefed about him but that there had been no legal reason for him to be detained.
“Had he done something that would have allowed us to put him into prison, he would have been in prison,” Ardern said.
The prime minister added that the man had seized the knife from a display at the store before going on his stabbing spree.
The attack stirred painful memories of the Christchurch shootings in March 2019, New Zealand’s worst terror atrocity, when a white supremacist gunned down 51 Muslim worshippers and wounded 40 others.
“What happened today was despicable, it was hateful, it was wrong,” Ardern said Friday. “It was carried out by an individual, not a faith, not a culture, not an ethnicity. He alone carries the responsibility for these acts.”
Asked about his motivations, she said “it was a violent ideology and ISIS-inspired.”
Ardern said the attacker had been before the courts previously and was the subject of court suppression orders.
Local media reported that prosecutors last year accused the 32-year-old of plotting a “lone wolf” terror attack using knives – but that she case failed after a judge ruled that planning a terror attack was not in itself a crime under existing laws.
The man was instead found guilty on lesser charges of possessing propaganda supporting ISIS and sentenced to 12 months’ supervision, according to Agence France-Presse.
Ardern said new terror laws drafted to close the loophole have not yet passed parliament.
“The fact that he was in the community will be an illustration that we haven’t succeeded in using the law to the extent we would have liked,” she said.
A witness to Friday’s attack…
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