News and views from Norway
Norway’s least welcome refugee, who’s been formally declared a threat to national security, sat down with reporters in Oslo on Thursday but only those from foreign media. Mullah Krekar said at the outset that he doesn’t want any contact with Norwegian media because he “has found no sympathy” in the local press for his cause.
It proved difficult to determine exactly what his “cause” is, because he’s a man full of contradictions.
Asked where he really wants to live, he answered “my village back in Northern Iraq,” yet he’s been fighting any attempt to send him back where he came from. Even though he voluntarily traveled back and forth to the area to run the guerrilla group Ansar al-Islam in the 1990s, while holding refugee status in Norway, he now believes he’ll probably be killed there.
Krekar said he fled Saddam Hussein’s government, yet he feels no gratitude to the US for toppling Hussein’s regime. To the contrary, he still claims that “anyone” has a right to kill occupying forces in Iraq, especially Americans. “All who have occupied Iraq can be killed,” he said on Thursday, repeating his support for suicide bombers that earlier has set off a storm of controversy in Norway.
While Norwegian authorities would dearly love to deport Krekar, they won’t send him back to Iraq for fear he’d be sentenced to death there.
“I think that Norway has been forced to have me here,” said Krekar, speaking in Arabic. He came to Norway 19 years ago but wanted all questions posed in Norwegian and translated into Arabic by an interpreter, who then translated Krekar’s answers back into Norwegian for the foreign press corps that mostly needed to write in either English or French.
In the wide-ranging, two-hour-session, Krekar claimed he has not given any support to terror group Al-Qaeda and only speaks of Osama bin Laden “because he is bin Laden.” Krekar continues to reject charges he’s a terrorist himself, despite some admiration he’s expressed for bin Laden. “I talk about Ronaldo as well,” he said. “That doesn’t make me a football player.” He claimed he has had no contact “whatsoever” with his old guerrilla group Ansar al Islam since May 17, 2002.The session drew to a close, though, with Krekar suddenly repeating explosive remarks made a few years ago. After claiming that it’s “Norway’s responsibility” to find him a secure country in which to live, he said that if he dies, whoever is responsible for his death will suffer the same fate.
“Norway will pay a price,” he told the foreign journalists assembled. “My death will cost the Norwegian society. If a leader like Erna Solberg (a former government minister now in opposition as leader of the Conservative Party) sends me out, and I die, she will suffer the same fate.”Remarks like that led to police protection around Solberg a few years ago. Krekar stated firmly that he hasn’t “laid a plan” to carry out any assassination, “but my followers will.” Asked whether he views his current situation as hopeless, Krekar said no. “I haven’t come to that,” he said. “I have a lot of hope, otherwise I would have committed suicide.”