Fiery Muslim leader says leaving Norway
January 5, 2012
OSLO, Norway, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- A Muslim extremist leader facing terrorism charges from his Norwegian hosts said this week he's planning on leaving for his native Kurdistan.
Najmaddin Faraj, who goes by the name Mullah Krekar, in the 1990s was one of the co-founders of the Kurdish extremist group Ansar al-Islam, which Western officials say has links to al-Qaida.
The fiery Krekar told the Irbil, Iraq, online newspaper Rudaw he will return soon from his Norwegian exile to the semi-autonomous Iraqi region even though he could face deadly reprisals from enemies made during Kurdistan's years of factional conflicts.
"My return to the Kurdistan region has become a major political issue," he said. "Each side wants to have me back to fight their opponents for them."
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of Kurdistan's mainstream political parties, has accused Krekar of directing his men from exile in the beheading of dozens of PUK fighters in 2002.
Krekar has been living in Norway since 1991, frequently issuing controversial comments on the Internet in which he has called for terrorist attacks against the West. Norwegian officials have sought to deport him as a security threat but have refrained from doing so on humanitarian grounds because the death penalty is still on the books in Kurdistan.
Calls for his arrest among some of Norway's elected leaders intensified last month, however, after Krekar appeared on Finnish television calling for jihadist terror strikes against the West.