Photo: NTB/Scanpix via AP
OSLO,— An Iraqi Kurdish Muslim extremist cleric suspected of plotting attacks in Europe and the Middle East will be extradited from Norway to Italy, the Justice Ministry in Oslo said on Wednesday.
Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, better known as Mullah Krekar, a former leader of the Ansar al-Islam militant group, won refugee status together with his family in Norway in the early 1990s.
In 2015, Italian authorities said that at least 15 suspected members of a militant group including Krekar had been arrested in six European countries on suspicion of planning attacks.
Krekar failed to avert extradition in the Norwegian courts, and the Justice Ministry on Wednesday gave its approval.
An appeal to the full cabinet is possible, but on past evidence is unlikely to succeed.
In July 2019 Krekar was sentenced to 12 years in prison on terrorism charges by an Italian court, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) reported.
Krekar has been arrested several times during his years in Norway, once for threats against Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
Though deemed a threat to Norway’s national security, Krekar was not deported back to Iraq because authorities there could not vouch for his safety.
At the time of his arrest in 2015, Krekar had already served an 18-month sentence for making death threats against a Kurdish man and giving an interview in which he encouraged other people to commit criminal acts.
Krekar’s publicly appointed lawyer has said he will ask the European Court of Human Rights to intervene in the case.
Back in Iraqi Kurdistan, he has been accused of seeking to depose the government and replace it with an Islamic caliphate.
“One of the charges is that that I want to change secularism to Islamic caliphate in Kurdistan,” he told NRT in an interview in March.
Krekar has previously been convicted of threatening Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, making other death threats and for praising the slaying of cartoonists at the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, in 2015.
Krekar said in 2015 only the Islamic State can “fulfill our ambitions and dreams,” . “The Islamic State is not something strange; it is the only element that can fulfill our ambitions and dreams,” he said in an Al Jazeera interview.
In 2006 the radical imam said “Osama bin Laden is a good man.
I wish him a long life.
He is a good Muslim and he is against the Bush administration,” Krekar, known for his controversial statements, told AFP in Oslo .
Krekar has immigrated to Norway in 1991 after “Islamic scholarship” and training in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1980s.
Earlier his pictures from Afghanistan has been published in many Islamic web sites and Krekar has also confirmed via his lawyer Brynjar Meling that he had meeting with Osama bin Laden already in 1988 in Peshawar in Pakistan.
Ansar al-Islam group listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S.
and Iraqi Kurdistan government.
The group is also suspected in suicide bombings of coalition forces in Iraqi Kurdistan,
Krekar in one of the most wanted in Iraqi Kurdistan region on charges of terrorist attacks in the Kurdish region.
Local officials still claim Krekar was responsible for the violence and have demanded he be extradited back to Iraqi Kurdistan.
In his capacity as leader of Ansar al-Islam, he is accused by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK party of ordering the beheading of 40 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in Kheli Hama village in September 2001.
Read more about Iraqi Kurdish Islamic radical Mullah Krekar
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