Norway to extradite fundamentalist preacher to Italy

'Mullah Krekar' founded extremist group Ansar Al Islam

FILE PHOTO: A sign reading Norwegian Supreme Court is seen on the court's building in Oslo, Norway May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Gwladys Fouche/File Photo
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Norway's government on Wednesday approved the extradition of the fundamentalist preacher to Italy, where he has been sentenced to prison for leading a terror network.

The Iraqi Kurd, 63, known as Mullah Krekar but named Najumuddin Faraj Ahmad, was arrested in July 2019 after he was convicted in his absence by an Italian court and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The court found him guilty of having led a now dismantled extremist network, Rawti Shax, which was a Kurdish movement with reported links to ISIS and was suspected of planning attacks in the West.

Krekar, who founded the radical group Ansar Al Islam, arrived in Norway in 1991 as a refugee.

The Norwegian judiciary, including the Supreme Court, has authorised the extradition three times.

It was requested by the Italian authorities in July 2019 and the Norwegian Justice Ministry on Wednesday gave final authorisation.

"The ministry considers that the conditions for an extradition to Italy are met," Minister of Justice Monica Maeland said.

Krekar now has three weeks to file an appeal to the country's King in Council, a special Cabinet meeting on matters of importance, which the king attends.

"There will be an appeal. I am already working on it," said Brynjar Meling, Krekar's lawyer.

"This is a sad day for the rule of law in Norway and for Justice Minister Monica Maeland. It is obviously a wrong decision."

Meling, who is also considering taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights, said there was no evidence indicating that his client was guilty.

Norway tried to deport Krekar since 2003, believing him to be a threat to national security.

Krekar is designated a terrorist by the UN and the US, and has spent several years in Norwegian prisons for issuing threats and calling for murder.