Who is Mullah Krekar?
Mullah Krekar is a Kurdish Sunni Islamist Islamic scholar who was the original leader of the terrorist organization Ansar al-Islam (Helpers of Islam). The armed group Ansar al-Islam had been set up in Kurdistan where it commenced its operations. Years ago Krekar arrived in Norway as a refugee from northern Iraq, though he has not been granted Norwegian citizenship because of his suspicious activities. He has himself acknowledged that he is the co-founder of Ansar al-Islam that targeted U.S. troops during the Iraq insurgency though he claimed that he had no knowledge of the terrorist attacks performed by the group. Ansar al-Islam has been linked to both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, and has been implicated in bombings across Europe. Several members of the terrorist outfit have been hanged and many others sentenced to life imprisonment. Krekar himself has been on the UN terror list since 2006 and has been termed as a "danger to national security" by the Supreme Court of Norway. Authorities in the Kurdistan Regional Government have repeatedly asked for him to be extradited from Norway though the Norwegian government can’t yet deport him due to humanitarian concerns that he might be tortured or executed there. However, it was reported that he would be forcibly relocated to the village of Kyrksæterøra in Trøndelag as per the order from the National Police Directorate.
Childhood & Early Life
Mullah Krekar was born as Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad in Sulaymaniyah, northern Iraq, on 7 July, 1956. He received his early education in Iraq.
He studied at the Sulaimania College from where he graduated in Arabic Language in 1982. During the 1980s he started studying under Abdullah Azzam in Pakistan and completed a jurisprudence degree; Azzam was also a mentor to al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. It is also believed that he was involved with the Afghan jihad waged by the 'Afghan Arabs', who were led by Azzam.
He completed his PhD from the University of Sind in 1988 with his thesis on ‘The methodology of Da'wa in the story of Moosa (Moses)’. It is also believed that he met Osama bin Laden the same year.
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After completing his education he returned to Iraq in 1988. Once there, he was assigned the responsibility of the military office of the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan (IMK).
He went to Norway as a refugee in 1991 and later also brought his family to the country. Over a period of time his wife and children were granted Norwegian citizenship though he himself was not granted the Norwegian citizenship.
He was appointed as the head of the IMK’s Military Wing in 1992 and the head of the IMK's office of Planning and Implementation, in 1995.
In 1997, the ‘Nida’ul Islam’ published an extensive interview in which Mullah Krekar described Kurdish political history and the basis of a new Islamic Movement. He also called for donations in support of the mujahideen.
During the 2000s he left Norway for a while after the 9/11 attacks and by 2002 he was reported to be back in northern Iraq. The same year, he became involved in planning the suicide bombings in Iraq.
By this time he was becoming increasingly notorious as the leader of a terrorist outfit. Norwegian immigration officials stated in 2003 that they will expel Mullah Krekar due to his involvement in terrorist activities which was not known at the time when his refugee status was granted.
The Norwegian law enforcement agency, Økokrim, ordered his arrest in March 2003. He was finally taken into custody after several months in January 2004. The court stated that there was reasonable cause to suspect that he was involved with the Ansar al-Islam and held a powerful position within the terrorist group.
By the mid-2000s the United States government had declared Ansar al-Islam a terrorist group. Mullah Krekar, however, denied his involvement in any terrorist activities that might have been undertaken by the group and stated that he no longer headed it.
The Iraqi Justice Minister Abdel Hussein Shandal said that Mullah Krekar was wanted in Iraq and should be tried there. In response, Krekar said that he wanted to go to Iraq and fight the Iraqi government openly. But he did not go to Iraq even after being told by the Norwegian minister of labour and migration that he was free to leave if he wanted.
In November 2007, the Supreme Court of Norway ruled that Krekar was a threat to Norway's national security. Even though this ruling upheld the 2003 decision by the government to deport him to Iraq, he could not yet be deported as the Norwegian law prohibits extradition where the prisoner could face the death penalty.
He was sentenced to five years in prison in March 2012 for making repeated death threats against Norwegian politicians and Kurds. He was then arrested by the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) and Norwegian Police. An additional year was added to his prison term in August 2012.
In January 2015, the Norwegian Police Service decided to forcibly relocate Mullah Krekar to the village of Kyrksæterøra in Trøndelag.
Mullah Krekar is also the author of several literary works including an autobiography, ‘In My Own Words’, and many translations, original works and books of poetry.
Personal Life & Legacy
He is married and has four children.