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Iraqi fundamentalist leader deported from the Netherlands

By TOBY STERLING, Associated Press
Last Updated 8:59 p.m. PST Monday, January 13, 2003

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - The Dutch government has deported to Norway the Kurdish leader of an Iraq-based Islamic fundamentalist group believed to have ties to al-Qaida, a Justice Ministry spokesman said Monday.

Mullah Krekar, head of the radical Ansar al-Islam, has been in detention in the Netherlands for four months, and was scheduled to begin hearings next week on an extradition request by Jordan on drug charges.

But the Dutch Minister of Defense decided personally to reject the extradition request and deport Krekar after Jordanian prosecutors failed to define exactly which laws he had broken, said Victor Holtus, a justice ministry spokesman.

"When it became clear those answers weren't coming, and faced with the probability that without this vital information, Krekar would probably be set free, (Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner) made the decision to send him to Norway," Holtus said.

He said that the Norwegian government had agreed to the move, and that Krekar would be taken into custody on arrival. He said Norwegian investigators are carrying out their own investigation of Krekar, but declined to elaborate.

Krekar, who was born Najm al-Din Faraj Ahmad, is leader of a group of 500 to 600 Islamic militants in the mountains of northern Iraq that is on the U.S. government's list of terrorist organizations.

Krekar was arrested at the airport outside Amsterdam on Sept. 12, after Iran had denied him entry and sent him back to Europe, tipping off western governments that he was on his way.

After his detention, Norway said it would revoke Krekar's refugee status and FBI agents interrogated him on Ansar al-Islam's alleged links to al-Qaida.


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