13 held in Europe-wide terror sweep

2015-11-12 18:03
Mullah Krekar (AP)

Mullah Krekar (AP)

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Stockholm - At least 13 people, including a controversial Kurdish Muslim cleric in Norway, have been arrested in a Europe-wide raid on a suspected Islamist terrorist network, European justice officials said on Thursday.

The European justice organisation Eurojust said six people had been arrested in Italy, four in Britain and three in Norway as part of the swoop.

At least 17 suspects were fingered in the operation launched by the Italian ROS Carabinieri, Eurojust said, adding that raids were also made in Britain, Germany, Switzerland and Finland.

Some of the suspects were believed to be at large or had travelled to Syria or Iraq to fight with the Islamic State (ISIS) group.

The probe centred on a group, named Rawti Shax, that has also attempted to recruit foreign fighters to be sent to Syria and Iraq, and to overthrow the Kurdish autonomous government in northern Iraq.

Rawti Shax evolved from the Ansar al-Islam group, which is listed by the UN as a terrorist organisation affiliated with al-Qaeda, The Hague-based Eurojust said.

One of the three arrested in Norway was Iraqi-born Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, also known as Mullah Krekar, who was identified as the leader of the group, Eurojust said.

Signe Aalling, prosecutor with the Norwegian security service PST, said Italy had issued a European arrest warrant, seeking the extradition of the three from Norway.

The PST had "no knowledge of concrete threats against Norwegian politicians or nationals", she said at a televised news conference.

Norwegian Justice Minister Anders Anundsen told reporters that Italy had requested Krekar's extradition, but he declined to comment on what Krekar was suspected of, referring questions to Italian officials.

"We have to wait and see what a [Norwegian] court says on the extradition request," Anundsen said.

Krekar, 59, has been a controversial figure since he was granted asylum in Norway in 1991. He was ordered to leave the country in 2003 for violating the terms of his refugee status and having alleged links to Ansar al-Islam.

Krekar was recently sentenced to an 18-month prison term in Norway over making threatening statements in a nationally broadcast television interview.

Read more on:    isis  |  norway

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