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Monday, April 15, 2024

‘Swap hostage for Krekar’

A social media campaign has been active in recent days, urging the leadership of the Islamic extremist group IS to turn over its Norwegian hostage Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ofstad in return for the Islamic cleric Mullah Krekar, who’s currently in prison in Norway for making threats. Krekar, who’s also been deemed a threat to national security, doesn’t seem interested, though, in joining IS.

Mullah Krekar now doesn't seem to think his homeland is so dangerous after all, and has indicated a willingness to return voluntarily, but with a catch. PHOTO: Views and News/Nina Berglund
Mullah Krekar has so far avoided being deported and his attorney says he has no desire to be handed over to IS in return for Norwegian hostage Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ofstad. PHOTO: Berglund

Krekar “wants to go to Kurdistan,” his defense attorney Brynjar Meling told newspaper Aftenposten over the weekend, adding that his client “has no desire” to be turned over to IS.

Meling also noted that such “human trade” is illegal under Norwegian law, so he wasn’t too concerned about the social media campaign to swap Krekar for the Norwegian hostage that was kidnapped after he traveled on his own to Syria in January.

Norwegian authorities have been trying to deport Krekar for years, so the idea may seem tempting to Norwegians eager to get rid of Krekar. They remain stymied by their own legal principle that they can’t turn Krekar over to authorities in Northern Iraq, which Krekar fled in the early 1990s, who may execute him. He later traveled back, violating the terms of the asylum he’d been granted in Norway, to lead the guerrilla group Ansar al-Islam. The US has branded him a terrorist but he landed in a Norwegian prison only after making a series of threats, also against Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

Norwegian authorities continue to seek the release of hostage Grimsgaard-Ofstad, age 48, although they claim they won’t pay the ransom demanded by IS to finance their aggression in Iraq and Syria that’s known for its brutality. A specialist in terror negotiations, Adam Dolnik, told newspaper VG over the weekend that he thinks some of IS’ soldiers from Norway are involved in negotiations for Grimsgaard-Ofstad’s release, even though Norway has said it won’t negotiate with terrorists either. Dolnik told VG it was “quite probable” that IS terrorists from Norway have been used by IS because of their knowledge of the hostage’s language, country and authorities. staff



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