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 Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 11:03 GMT
Dutch deport 'Islamic militant'
Mullah Krekar
Mullah Krekar walked free as he arrived in Norway
The Dutch Government has deported an Iraqi Kurd suspected of being the leader of an Iraqi-based militant Islamic group with links to al-Qaeda.

The Justice Ministry in The Hague said it had decided to expel Mullah Krekar to Norway rather than extradite him to Jordan, where he is wanted for questioning over his alleged involvement in heroin trading.

Confronted with the probability that the extradition request by Jordan for trade in heroin would not be granted and Krekar would have to be released, the minister chose to expel him to Norway

Justice Ministry statement
The ministry said the Jordanians had failed to make a strong enough case for the Mullah to be handed over.

Mullah Krekar - whose real name is Najm Faraj Ahmad - was arrested at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport in September as he travelled to Norway, where he has had refugee status since 1991.

"Confronted with the probability that the extradition request by Jordan for trade in heroin would not be granted and Krekar would have to be released, the minister chose to expel him to Norway," the justice ministry said in a statement.

American interest

A Norwegian minister, Erna Solberg, said his case was being reviewed to determine whether he should be allowed to stay in Norway.

But there was no attempt to arrest him when he flew into Oslo airport in a specially chartered jet on Monday.

Mullah Krekar with three other men
Mullah Krekar denies a connection with Saddam Hussein

"At this moment he is a free man," one of Mullah Krekar's lawyers told the Dutch news agency ANP.

Mullah Krekar was met by a lawyer and his wife and brother - who moved to Norway, along with his children, under a family reunification programme for refugees.

His lawyers claim that the Jordanian drug allegation is a trumped up charge, fabricated as a pretext for an extradition request made as a favour to the United States.

Mullah Krekar is suspected of being the leader of Ansar al-Islam, or the Supporters of Islam - a staunchly anti-American, Islamist group.

Among the charges laid at Ansar al-Islam's door are claims that it is connected to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, or Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, and has been involved in testing chemical weapons.

Mullah Krekar denies the allegations, especially that he is linked to Saddam Hussein, whom he calls an enemy of the Kurdish people.


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27 Sep 02 | Middle East
20 Sep 02 | Middle East
14 Sep 02 | Middle East
24 Jul 02 | Middle East
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