Statewatch article: RefNo# 25670
Krekar case poses more questions than answers
Statewatch Bulletin; vol 13 no 6 November-December 2003
On 12 September 2002, the Dutch authorities arrested Mullah Krekar at Schiphol airport on the grounds that he posed a threat to national security. His flight from Iran to Norway stopped over in Amsterdam.

The "suspect"

Mullah Krekar, an Iraqi Kurd, has been living as a political refugee in Norway since 1991 (and has a Norwegian passport). He is accused of participating in terrorist activities, although the nature of the charges remain unclear and the evidence has proven insufficient for successful prosecution. Mullah Krekar, or Farai Ahmad Najmuddin, is one of the founders of the Islamic organisation Ansar al-Islam (originally Jund al-Islam - Soldiers of Islam). He was born in the Iraqi province of Al-Sulaymaniyah, studied Islamic Law in Pakistan and allegedly followed the teachings of Abdullah Azzam, who was also the mentor of Osama bin Laden. In Pakistan, Krekar became involved in the Afghan resistance movement and went to fight against the Russians in Chechnya. He was cited saying that Osama Bin Laden was the crown of Islam. Ansar al-Islam operated in the north of Iraq and is named in relation to attacks on Kurdish politicians and holds the reins of a religious government in some villages in the north of Iraq.

According the United States, Ansar al-Islam fighters give shelter to high ranking al-Qaida members and have experimented with chemical weapons. Just before the US and UK-led attack on Iraq, the United States saw Ansar al-Islam as a threat to Kurdish parties in Northern Iraq. In February 2003, Ansar al-Islam was added to the United Nations list of terrorist organisations.

Ansar al-Islam called for a holy war in the region, but it is unclear if Krekar supported this position. Some sources say he supported the radical fractions, others say that he was more of a compromise figure in the organisation. According to Michiel Leezenberg (lecturer in Islamic Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam) Krekar was a preacher and not a military leader and he argues there is little proof for the accusations about his presumed participation in terrorist activities.

When Krekar was arrested at Schipol airport in September 2002, the Dutch authorities claimed the arrest took place on grounds of a drugs related extradition request by Jordan. However, the events that followed revealed that the US suspected Krekar of "terrorist activities" as well as relations with al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein, although he does not appear on the FBI's 'most wanted' list. On the day of Krekar's arrest, a Dutch Ministry of Justice spokesman claimed that it was related to immigration offences and that "several countries" were discussing his case with the Dutch secret service (which, it was later revealed, provided the "evidence" for this case).

The events leading up to the arrest

Krekar was put under house arrest in Norway at the end of August 2002 because of alleged recruitment activities for a cell of Ansar al-Islam in Norway. Preliminary investigations were initiated against him on grounds of terrorism and abuse of his asylum status. In face of prosecution in Norway, Krekar left the country for Sweden, but Sweden told him to leave so Krekar took a flight to Iran to travel on to northern Iraq. The Iranian authorities arrested and imprisoned him in Teheran, despite that fact that he was neither convicted of any crimes, nor had he encountered problems with Iranian authorities in the past. Iran used to support Ansar Al-Islam, but according to the Economist, the Iranian secret services have increased their cooperation with 'Western' (American) intelligence agencies.

The events that followed imply at least some form of cooperation between the different governments involved, albeit a confusing one:

On 12 September 2002

- the Iranian authorities expel Krekar back to Norway via Amsterdam where he is arrested and imprisoned at the high security prison of Vught.
- Norway notifies the Dutch Embassy in Teheran of Krekarís<

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