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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 21:42 GMT
Norway to expel Mullah Krekar
Mullah Krekar
Mullah Krekar is accused of being the leader of Ansar al-Islam
Norway has said it plans to expel Mullah Krekar, the Iraqi Kurd leader of an Iraqi-based militant Islamic group suspected of having with links to al-Qaeda.

Mullah Krekar arrived in Norway, where he has had refugee status since 1991, two weeks ago after he was ordered to leave the Netherlands.

At the time the Dutch authorities had decided to expel Mullah Krekar rather than extradite him to Jordan where he is wanted for questioning over his alleged involvement in heroin trading.

Mullah Krekar - whose real name is Faraj Ahmad Najmuddin - has two weeks to leave Norway after which he will be sent to northern Iraq.

Security threat

Norwegian immigration officials called Mullah Krekar "a threat to national security" because of the group's alleged links to al-Qaeda.

His group Ansar al-Islam or the Supporters of Islam is a staunchly anti-American, Islamist group.

Mullah Krekar
Mullah Krekar denies he is involved in terrorist activities

"Ansar al-Islam is an armed, Islamic, fundamentalist grouping which I believe there is reason to suppose has a connection to the Al-Qaeda network," said Norwegian Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Erna Solberg.

Ms Solberg, whose ministry is responsible for dealing with asylum seekers, said recent discussions in the United Nations Security Council on preventing terrorist safe havens had prompted her decision.

Earlier this month United States Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Security Council that Ansar provided safe haven for members of al-Qaeda in the northern Iraq enclave they control and had planned to make chemical weapons.

Ms Solberg said the decision had been further catalysed by reports from the New York-based Human Rights Watch that Ansar al-Islam had been involved in illegally detaining and torturing people in northern Iraq.

Chance to appeal

Mullah Krekar has denied that his group has any links to terrorism or to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network - blamed for the 11 September attack in the United States.

He also says Ansar has not made chemical weapons.

Ansar has also been accused of having links to the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein - another charge which Mullah Krekar rejects, denouncing Saddam Hussein as an enemy of the Kurdish people.

Immigration director Trygve Nordby said Mullah Krekar's frequent visits to the Kurdish regions of Northern Iraq, where his group operates, had forced a reassessment of whether he really was an asylum seeker.

"There are big differences between the information we have now and what we knew then," Mr Nordby said of the previous decision to grant Mullah Krekar refugee status.

Mullah Krekar's wife, children and brother all live in Norway too - having moved there under a family reunification programme for refugees.

Mullah Krekar has three weeks to appeal against the decision.



Dutch deport 'Islamic militant'
14 Jan 03 |  Europe
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20 Sep 02 |  Middle East
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'Al-Qaeda' influence grows in Iraq
24 Jul 02 |  Middle East

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