Islamic group founder’s expulsion upheld

/ Source: The Associated Press

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a government order to expel the founder of Ansar al-Islam, a suspected Islamic terror group in Iraq, as a threat to Norwegian national security.

Two lower courts had also upheld a government order to deport Kurdish leader Mullah Krekar, a refugee in Norway since 1991. Even though the Supreme Court ruling was final, conditions in Iraq made it unlikely that he would promptly be returned to his homeland.

"There is clearly enough evidence that Krekar is a threat to national security through his presence in Norway," said Hans Flock, one of the Supreme Court justices.

Krekar, born Najm al-Din Faraj Ahmad, founded the Ansar al-Islam group listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and others. The group is also suspected in suicide bombings of coalition forces in Iraq.

Krekar has said he no longer leads Ansar al-Islam, and denies links to al-Qaida. The United Nations in December 2006 added him to a list of people believed associated with al-Qaida.

In a civil suit brought before Norway's highest court, Krekar sought to challenge the grounds for earlier court rulings, and the government's order to expel him, which also strips Krekar of his refugee status, visa rights and all related benefits.

Part of the case was also to test how far the courts can go in ruling on or reversing the decisions of Norwegian government agencies in such cases.

During the high court hearings, Krekar's lawyer Harald Stabell argued that his client had not been able to adequately defend himself because a report on why he as seen as national security risk was kept secret. All such reports are classified in Norway.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court noted that Krekar, in his own book, had written about meeting Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, and that the terror network has specifically threatened Norway on several occasions.

It also said Krekar repeatedly returned home to Kurdish areas in northern Iraq, even though he had been granted refugee status in Norway by claiming it was unsafe for him there.

Krekar was arrested at an airport outside Amsterdam, Netherlands, in September 2002, after Iran denied him entry and sent him back to Europe. He was deported to Norway in January 2003 because he had residency there.