Controversial Norway-based Kurdish cleric Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, known as Mullah Krekar, has said he would support Tehran against the “infidels” if a war breaks out between Iran and the United States.
“If a war takes place between Iran and the US – or Iran and Russia; Iran and France; Iran and China; Iran and any other infidel [state] – we will indeed be on the side of Iran,” Krekar said in a speech published on YouTube on Tuesday.
The controversial figure compared the recent tensions between Tehran and Washington to the Iran-backed Hezbollah group’s fight in Lebanon against Israel.
Krekar said that although the group has suppressed Sunni Muslims in Lebanon and Syria, that “behavior does not turn us against Hezbollah.”
Nevertheless, Krekar described the recent developments as a “game of words,” adding he did not expect a war between the US and Iran because President Donald Trump “is not after war, he is a businessman.”
On Friday, Trump completed the sale of over $8 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan amid the Iran standoff, Reuters reported.
Although there is ongoing speculation that Trump wants a war with Iran, the US president has made it clear several times that he does not want the conflict to escalate.
Dr. Nahro Zagros, the Vice President of Soran University for Scientific Affairs, said Krekar’s statement was unusual, considering the fact he is a Sunni preacher defending a Shia-dominant regime.
“He is an ultra-Sunni, and yet he is supporting Iran in this conflict, which is a bit weird,” Zagros told Kurdistan 24.
“But, it tells you how this tension and fight in [the entire] Middle East is shaping in a different way that we never thought before.”
Krekar is the former leader of the extremist Islamist Ansar al-Islam group that the US targeted during its liberation of Iraq in 2003.
Zagros suggested Krekar’s comments are related to his ambitions to return and live in the region.
“I don’t think he is very happy where he is and still thinks he can come back and gather support for his belief and ideology.”
Krekar has lived in Norway since 1991. The Scandinavian nation has been unable to legally deport him since there is a death penalty in Iraq.
Krekar was jailed several times for death threats in 2012, and for praising the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris, France, in 2015.
In 2017, an Italian court brought a terrorism case against Krekar and five others, but it has been postponed several times.
The cleric continues to release regular statements in exile through his official website and social media, including on recent political developments.