The youth section of the Norwegian Fremskrittspartiet, the major conservative opposition party in the country, has set up a fundraising campaign in which they say they will buy Mullah Krekar a one-way airplane ticket to his home in Northern Iraq. Krekar, whose real name is Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, is an Iraqi Kurd who received political asylum in Norway in 1991. According to Krekar’s lawyer the campaign is not funny and proves that the Fremkrittspartiet’s youth section has no respect for human rights.
Despite being recognized as a fugitive from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Krekar travelled home regularly until 2002. He helped establish an Islamist republic there. Krekar became the co-founder and first leader of Ansar al-Islam, the Kurdish subsidiary of al-Qaeda. Kurdish villages controlled by Ansar al-Islam were subjected to sharia laws: schools for girls were destroyed; singing and musical instruments were forbidden; non-Muslim Kurds were forced to convert. Ansar al-Islam also used terrorist tactics, such as the deployment of suicide bombers, in its conflicts with other Kurdish nationalist groups such as the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). There were several assassination attempts on leading PUK politicians with carbombs and snipers. On one occasion the organisation beheaded 53 PUK prisoners.
Many, including local Kurds and the CIA, believe that Ansar al-Islam had links with Saddam Hussein. Mullah Krekar has denied this claim. Nevertheless, his organisation never confronted Saddam’s forces and only fought Kurdish separatists. After the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, which ousted Saddam, it is believed that Ansar al-Islam helped the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorists to enter Iraq.
Krekar claims that by that time he was no longer the leader of the organisation. In August 2002, while he was in Iraq, the Norwegian government revoked his refugee status on the grounds that he had traveled back to his homeland. Upon his return to Europe in September 2002 Krekar was arrested at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands. He spent four months in a Dutch jail before being sent back to Norway. Though Krekar thought it wise not to leave Norway, for fear that he would not be allowed in again, the Norwegian authorities have not arrested him.
In February 2003 the Norwegian government ordered that Krekar be sent back to Iraq. The order, however, was not implemented because Krekar, whose wife and children have acquired Norwegian nationality, appealed. Krekar has not been arrested because, according to the Norwegian judiciary, his link to terrorist organisations has not been adequately proven. He received the support of various left-wing groups and of the Norwegian branch of Amnesty International. Norwegian law forbids the extradition of people to countries where they can be given the death penalty or be tortured.
In June 2004 Krekar was convicted of terrorism by a military tribunal in Jordan. He was sentenced in absentia to 15 years of hard labor. The Norwegian prosecutors dismissed the charges because the Jordanians allegedly tortured a potential witness against Krekar.
Last September, in an interview on al-Jazeera, Krekar threatened Norway with terrorism if it expelled him. Last March he told the Norwegian press that Osama bin Laden is “a good person.” He also said on Norwegian television that the publication of Muhammad cartoons in the Western media was a declaration of war and called upon Muslims to fight.
Barely one month ago, if anyone had predicted that the Netherlands would sooner get rid of the Dutch parliamentarian and “European of the Year” Ayaan Hirsi Ali than Norway of Mullah Krekar, few would have believed it. Apparently, in contemporary Europe it is harder to get a terrorist expelled than to get a camel through a needle’s eye or a member of parliament stripped of her citizenship.
The difference between Krekar and Hirsi Ali? He threatens the Norwegians with terror attacks if they throw him out, and she is kicked out because her enemies threaten the Dutch with terror attacks if she is allowed to stay.