Mullah Krekar, the Kurdish Islamic leader who now lives in Norway, has both confirmed and denied that he is the leader of the terror group Ansar Al-Islam. But now the CIA seems to have caught him in the act. This from the Telegraph, with thanks to Filtrat and Nicolei:
Internet messages sent by an exiled Islamic radical allegedly ordering suicide bomb attacks against coalition troops in Iraq have been intercepted by American intelligence officials.
Mullah Krekar, founder of Ansar Al-Islam, the fanatical terror group linked to al-Qa’eda and blamed by America for a number of attacks on its troops, is being held in an Oslo prison while police investigate if he has any role in the Iraqi resistance.
Last week, CIA officials passed the messages from Krekar, a Kurd who was granted political asylum from Saddam Hussein in Norway in 1991, to Norwegian prosecutors. The investigation into Krekar – arrested earlier this month on charges of conspiracy to murder a Kurdish politician in 2002 – has widened to take in his alleged role in plotting recent attacks, in Europe as well as Iraq.
The CIA material details Krekar’s alleged role in the terrorist campaign against coalition troops in Iraq. These allegedly include coded messages sent via the internet authorising suicide bomb attacks and exhorting holy war. Krekar’s lawyer, Byrnar Meling, confirmed the role played by the Americans in investigating his client.
“The charges in Norway relate to orders on the internet to carry out suicide bomb attacks in the last months of 2003,” he said. “They have been on the internet listening to his messages and the prosecutor has now confirmed that they are interested in starting an investigation into a lot of information that can be tracked to the Americans.”
You got him all wrong, says Krekar’s lawyer. He was just discussing theology. (This defense, of course, relies on the prosecution making the absurd assumption that a theological discussion can have nothing to do with practical violence.)
Mr Meling admitted that his client had taken part in internet discussion groups used by Islamic groups while in Norway, but said that his postings were merely his thoughts about the justification of suicide in the context of holy war. “There is no encouragement in his comments,” he said. “It is simply a theological, political analysis about Jihad.”
The Kurdish radical leader has also been interviewed by Italian police investigating attempts to recruit suicide bombers and Islamic resistance fighters in Milan. No charges have been brought.
Ansar Al-Islam has itself been accused by the German authorities of planning a suicide attack on a US military hospital in Hamburg in December. The plot was thwarted after the authorities closed the hospital after a CIA tip-off.
“This is a case with massive and overlapping international interests,” said a senior Western diplomat in Oslo. “The Norwegians have been bombarded with information from a variety of nations, all of which have gathered evidence about this man.”
A Kurdish official in Baghdad claimed that the alleged evidence of attacks in Iraq included e-mails and two mobile telephone calls made weeks before the truck bombing of the Baghdad Hotel last October.
“We have been told that Krekar found out on the internet that the CIA was using the hotel as a Baghdad base and had sent a mobilisation order to a cell here in Iraq to plan an attack,” he said. In the bombing, six Iraqi guards were killed.
Krekar, who has previously admitted meeting Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman Zawhiri, claims to have severed links with Ansar Al-Islam in May 2002. Last week, however, the judge who ordered him to be held in prison said that Krekar, “has had, and still has, a central position in Ansar Al-Islam.”
Shortly before the war was launched in March, Krekar was in northern Iraq. The appeal court heard that according to prisoners interviewed by the Norwegian police, Krekar trained his followers in the techniques of suicide bombers.
“Several witnesses leave the impression that suicide and bombing actions would not have been carried out without [Krekar’s] knowledge,” the court said, explaining why Krekar was being held in detention while the investigation continues. “According to the suspect’s statement to police, no one could be punished without his approval.”