Najmuddin Ahmad Faraj, better known as Mullah Krekar, is an Iraqi jihadi who has been living in Norway since 1991. Both the United Nations and United States list him as a terrorist.
He’s the founder of two Islamic State-linked terror cells. The Supreme Court of Norway has ruled him a “danger to national security.” He has issued multiple death threats against top politicians in Norway and the people want nothing more than to get rid of him as they live in constant fear over what he may do to their nation.
There’s just one problem. He can’t be deported.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has shut down several of Norway’s attempts to extradite Krekar to Iraq. The fact that he will face torture and the death penalty upon return to his native Iraq overrules the otherwise deportable label of a national security threat.
Under U.S. deportation laws, convicted felons can be deported to their home countries at any given time — regardless of the fate they may face. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticized U.S. immigration agencies for not following the same practices as Europe when it comes to screening for possible dangers.
But HRW fails to mention that standards set by ECHR force 47 European countries (all but the Vatican) to accept the presence of foreign terrorists if their human rights can’t be guaranteed in their homelands.
It also enabled Krakar to build two terror networks that have recruited members to fight for al-Qaida and ISIS, both in the Middle East and Europe.
Krakar first came on the radar in 2001 when he formed Ansar al-Islam, an insurgent Sunni group in Iraq and Syria that later dissolved into ISIS. He divided his time between Iraq and Norway in 2002 as the organization gained members. This travel was a violation of his refugee status and Norway ordered his deportation to Iraq. While traveling to Iraq, he was denied entry to Iran during a layover. Authorities flew him back to the Netherlands where he requested to be interviewed by the FBI to clear his name. Since Ansar al-Islam was a fairly new organization, the FBI had no grounds to make an extradition request and he was sent back to Norway in January 2003.
And so the battle of Norway v. Mullah Krakar began.
Norway immediately issued a deportation request for Krekar upon his return. The same request still stands 12 years later, but ECHR refuses to enforce it. Authorities then changed strategy and arrested him for financing terrorist activities. The courts failed to provide sufficient evidence against Krekar after he claimed to have resigned as leader of Ansar al-Islam, which was now fighting U.S. forces in Iraq while carrying out suicide bombings in the Middle East.
Krekar walked, but kept preaching jihadi messages.
“This is a declaration of war against of our religion, our faith, and our civilization,” he said in the aftermath of Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten publishing cartoons of prophet Muhammad. “We Muslims are ready for this.”
The Norwegian people became increasingly worried about Krekar after international bodies put him on terror lists. Businessman Taswer Sharif offered him $60,000 to return to Iraq, which he politely declined. In January 2010, three shots were fired through a window to Krekar’s Oslo apartment in an assassination attempt.
During an interview with an online Kurdish newspaper in 2012, Krekar issued death threats against Prime Minister Erna Solberg when asked what he would do if Norway went ahead and handed him over to Iraq.
“My death will cost Norwegian society,” he said. “If, for example, Erna Solberg throws me out of the country, and I die as a result, she will suffer the same fate.”
Krekar was sentenced to five years in prison for the death threats, which was later reduced to three in a higher court.
When he was released earlier this year, Norwegian police issued a so-called internal deportation on Krekar. This entailed putting him in a refugee camp in the small village of Kyrksaeteroera, about nine hours northwest of Oslo. To keep track of his whereabouts, he had to check in with police several times a week.
“With some misgivings, the court considers that the basic national interest, at least until 31 December 2015, must take precedence over Faraj’s right to a family life, freedom to move freely throughout the country and to choose his own place of residence,” the court’s decision read, according to AFP.
Krekar’s spell in the refugee camp didn’t last long. After the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris he was quoted in videos as saying “those who draw caricatures of Mohammed must die.”
Krekar got another 18 months in prison for the comments.
European authorities in six countries performed simultaneous raids Thursday that took down a terror ring called Rawti Shax. The European Union’s judicial cooperation unit, Eurojust, announced Krekar had been running the organization with close ties to ISIS throughout his prison terms. (RELATED: Arrests In Three European Countries Dismantle ISIS-Linked Terror Cell)
Norway may now for the first time have evidence to tie Krekar to a long prison sentence. The trials against Krekar and other arrested members of Rawti Shax will likely take place in Italy.
“If this means that Krekar leaves Norway, that’s fine,” Solberg said according to Deutsche Welle.
It remains to be seen if Norway will finally be able to get rid of the man that has been haunting it for 24 years. If history is any indication, he won’t go down without a fight.
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