Krekar avoids banishment, for now

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Muslim cleric Mullah Krekar won’t be sent to a small village in Trøndelag after all when he’s released from prison on Sunday. His defense lawyer turned in a 20-page appeal of the forced move to a court in Oslo on Friday, and the police decided to suspend Krekar’s relocation pending a court ruling.

Oslo Police Chief Sverre Sjøvold said it would be “impractical” to move Krekar far from Oslo on Sunday, only to transport him back to Oslo for a court hearing on Monday. Krekar’s lawyer intends to fight the relocation order all the way to the Norwegian Supreme Court if necessary, so the appeal may take time.

Heading home
In the meantime, Krekar will be able to move home to his family in Oslo after serving a prison term for making threats against two Kurds in Norway and Conservative Party leader Erna Solberg, who is now Norway’s prime minister. He’d initially been ordered to move to an asylum center in the small community of Kyrksæterøra in Trøndelag pending his deportation, because Norwegian authorities wanted to distance him from his fundamentalist Islamic followers.

It remains debatable whether that would have been successful, even in Kyksæterøra, because Krekar mostly communicates with his followers over the Internet. Police said on Friday that they don’t think it will threaten public safety to have Krekar back in Oslo.

It was unclear whether police will also enforce an order that Krekar regularly report his whereabouts to police. Such an order was attached to his relocation order, but Sjøvold said a new order that he check in with Oslo Police had yet to be drafted. “We’ll get back to that,” Sjøvold said.

Krekar costly for taxpayers
Newspaper Aftenposten reported on Friday that Krekar, who originally came to Norway as a refugee from Northern Iraq in 1991, already has cost Norwegian taxpayers more than NOK 6 million just for some of his court costs, lawyers’ fees and incarceration costs in recent years. In addition come the costs of his various legal cases in the Supreme Court, while social welfare agency NAV won’t say how much it has spent on Krekar since he landed in Norway more than 20 years ago. Even though he regularly bashes western forms of government he has reaped the benefits of Norway’s democracy and social welfare system for years.

A deportation order for Krekar was issued several years ago after he was declared a threat to national security. He has ironically enough fought to stay in Norway and Norwegian authorities have been unable to deport him because they lacked assurances from Iraqi authorities that Krekar would not be tortured or executed for his earlier guerrilla activities in Northern Iraq. According to Wikileaks documents obtained by newspaper Aftenposten, US officials didn’t think the Norwegian authorities were trying hard enough negotiate a deportation.

Nearly sent to Australia
Aftenposten also reported earlier this week on how Norway nearly was able to extradite Krekar to Australia in 2012 after Australian journalist Paul Moran was killed nine years earlier by a suicide bomber backed by the guerrilla group Krekar led, Ansar al-Islam. In 2007, another Australian journalist reported on the “Norwegian jihad” in which Mullah Krekar was interviewed and supported the suicide bombing that killed Moran. Australian Broadcasting (ABC) also showed clips of Krekar speaking when he led Ansar al-Islam, and condoning the murder of anyone who opposes Islam. Krekar even urged Muslims to “use an ax to cut off his head, or shoot a bullet through his brain … It if is possible for me to kill him, I will do it myself.”

Australian authorities later reportedly doubted they had enough information about the suicide bomber that killed Moran and decided not to investigate the Krekar case. Norway was portrayed as a haven for terrorists in Australian media for protecting Krekar, but no extradition request was filed and Norway lost its chance to rid itself of its troublesome refugee who wore out his welcome in the country years ago.

Meanwhile, Krekar’s Norwegian defense attorney Brynjar Meling continues to work to protect Krekar and effectively keep him in Norway. Meling claims he’s done of lot of work for Krekar for free “because it must be done.” He has often been Krekar’s legally appointed counsel, however, so has billed the state along with co-counsel Arvid Sjødin for more than NOK 2.25 million over the last eight to 10 years.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund