Radical Norway-based Islamist Mullah Krekar was sentenced on Monday to five years in prison by the Oslo district court after he was found guilty on charges that included issuing death threats against a former government minister. The five-year sentence matches that sought by a prosecutor for Krekar, the founder of radical Iraqi Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam. Krekar said he would appeal the verdict.
The 55-year-old mullah, whose real name is Najmeddine Faraj Ahmad and who has lived in Norway since 1991, had pleaded not guilty to threatening the life of Erna Solberg, an ex-minister who signed his expulsion order in 2003 because he was considered a threat to national security.
Krekar's name is on terrorist lists drawn up by the United Nations and the United States.
His deportation process began in 2003 but has yet to be carried out since Norwegian law prevents him from being deported to Iraq until his safety can be guaranteed and as long as he risks the death penalty.
"Norway will pay a heavy price for my death," he said during a meeting with international media in June 2010.
"If for example Erna Solberg deports me and I die as a result, she will suffer the same fate," he said in Arabic, adding: "I don't know who will kill her: Al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Islam, my family, my children. I don't know... But she will pay the price."
According to prosecutor Marit Bakkevig, the comments were an attempt to get Norwegian authorities to reverse the expulsion order.
Krekar was also accused of threatening other Kurds living in Norway who had burned pages of the Koran, as well as calling for attacks on US soldiers in Iraq on several occasions. The judge confirmed that Krekar's comments qualified as threats in the eyes of the law.
The mullah had admitted to making the statements but claimed his words merely referred to Islamic principles.
While Krekar acknowledges having co-founded Ansar al-Islam, which also figures on international lists of terrorist groups, in 2001, he insists he has not led the group since 2002.