Photo: NTB/Scanpix via AP
COPENHAGEN, Denmark,— Iraqi Kurdish Muslim extremist cleric Mullah Krekar was extradited Thursday from Norway to Italy, where he has been sentenced to 12 years in jail for planning terror.
Norwegian Justice Minister Monica Maeland told a news conference that Iraqi-born Mullah Krekar had been sent to Italy.
“We have been waiting for Italy to say it was justifiable to do so, and they thought it was today,” Maeland said.
In July, Krekar, who was born Najm al-Din Faraj Ahmad, was found guilty by a court in northern of attempting to overthrow the Kurdish government in northern Iraq and create an Islamic caliphate.
Earlier this year, Norway has long wanted to get him out of the country, decided he could be extradited on an Italian extradition request.
He opposed that, fearing he would be extradited to Iraq.
Most recently, he also expressed fears that Italy had become the epicenter of the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
His Norwegian lawyer Brynjar Meiling said authorities in Norway didn’t “have the decency to let him say goodbye to his family.”
“This is a day of shame for all those who have not stood up against the extradition of an obviously innocent man,” Meiling told the VG newspaper.
His criticism was directed at Norwegian courts that have ruled in favor of his extradition, the government and the opposition.
Italian prosecutors had alleged Krekar is behind Rawti Shax, a European network aimed at violently overthrowing the government in Kurdistan.
In 2015, European authorities arrested 15 Iraqi-Kurdish nationals on terrorism-related charges.
Rawti Shax recruited foreign terrorist fighters to be sent to Iraq and Syria and provided logistical and financial support, according to the Italian prosecutors who spearheaded the probe.
They alleged that Krekar was the leader.
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.
Krekar founded the now-defunct Ansar al-Islam insurgent group of Sunni Kurds, which aimed to install an Islamic caliphate in Iraqi Kurdistan.
It reportedly merged with the Islamic State group in 2014.
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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