Krekar arrested after more threats

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UPDATED: Mullah Krekar remained a free man Tuesday morning, pending appeal of his conviction on Monday for making death threats, but it didn’t last long. Calls had gone out for his immediate arrest, after he reportedly issued more threats over the weekend and even assaulted a TV2 reporter Monday evening. Police apprehended him at his Oslo apartment Tuesday afternoon.

Mullah Krekar, shown here after making threats in 2010, wasn't arrested after being sentenced to five years in jail on Monday, but pressure rose that he be held in custody pending his appeal. He was apprehended Tuesday afternoon. PHOTO: Nina Berglund / Views and News

Krekar, also known as Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, was arrested “on the basis of the Oslo City Court’s judgment against him … and on the basis of immediate danger for repetition of new criminal acts (threats of terror),” according to a police press release.

Krekar was sentenced on Monday to five years in prison by an Oslo city court judge, a ruling widely hailed throughout Norway’s political establishment, on newspaper editorial pages and through jubilant public comments on social media. Under Norwegian legal practice, however, such convictions are only deemed rettskraftig (enforceable under the law) until the appeals system is exhausted. Newspaper Aftenposten, for example, could report that Krekar therefore was driven home on Monday by none other than agents from Norway’s police intelligence unit PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste).

If a convict is considered a threat to society, however, he or she can be apprehended and held in custody pending appeal. PST evaluated doing just that, because of new alleged threats Krekar made on two websites over the weekend. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that armed police from both PST and the Oslo Police District arrested Krekar at his home in Oslo’s Tøyen district around 2pm.

As they escorted Krekar to a police car, Krekar yelled about support for Islam. There are concerns he already has sent out threats against Norwegian police.

Reports of hateful messages
VG Nett reported that PST is investigating a hateful message Krekar allegedly repeated on the website Paltak against three Kurdish men whom he earlier has threatened. They’re among the targets, along with former government minister Erna Solberg, of the threats that landed Krekar in court and resulted in his conviction on Monday. Prosecutor Marit Bakkevig told VG that the authorities had to consider arresting Krekar. Meanwhile, she said, they were following Krekar’s activity closely to determine whether he commited more illegal acts while waiting for his appeals trial.

Krekar also issued new threats during the weekend against Norwegian interests abroad, according to Aftenposten. While his earlier threats have been against Norwegian authorities regarding an eventual deportation from Norway, he now is believed to have issued messages, also on Paltak, that can be interpreted as threats against Norwegian police and Norwegian interests in other countries. Other statements by Krekar urging action against Norwegian police were also allegedly spread on another website as well.

In addition to the new online threats, Krekar also lunged at a TV2 reporter Monday evening and damaged his camera in TV2’s own offices. Krekar has long refused to talk to Norwegian reporters and was in TV2’s Oslo office to conduct an interview with international TV channel al Jazeera, which had rented studio space from TV2. Al Jazeera’s two journalists tried to restrain Krekar, but were also angry with TV2 for allegedly violating an agreement not to question Krekar. TV2’s question reportedly provoked Krekar.

‘Consciously creating fear’
Oslo Judge Per Fleisje, who sentenced Krekar to five years in prison, based his ruling on what he considered evidence that Krekar has “considerable influence” over hundreds of followers, who may be capable of carrying out Krekar’s beliefs that it’s allowed to kill certain persons under sharia law.

Fleisje also wrote that in the court’s opinion, Krekar “wants to create a situation where every Muslim can be seen as dangerous. Krekar’s conscious effort to link fear to every Muslim can create and intensify prejudice against Muslims in Norwegian society.”

The court, ruled Fleisje, “has no doubt that Krekar will make new death threats, if he can claim that someone has offended the Koran.”

Police announced Tuesday afternoon that Krekar would face a custody hearing in the Oslo City Court. One of his defense attorneys, Arvid Sjødin, told NRK that he hadn’t been informed of his client’s arrest, and claimed there was no evidence Krekar has made new threats.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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