When we last left Mullah Krekar, Norway's top-seeded resident jihadist, author, and Dancing with the Stars contestant (OK, I made that last one up, but not too long ago it would've been entirely conceivable), he was reportedly packing up his old kit bag and preparing to move back to his native Iraq. His intention, he announced, was to give courses in how to strap explosives to your kid – sorry, I mean, in Islamic theology.
Well, as it turns out, rather amazingly, the Norwegian judiciary has upset Krekar's plans.
Here's the story. Back in June 2010, Krekar – who at the time was facing possible expulsion to Iraq, where he insisted he was in danger of execution –issued the following warning: “My death will cost Norwegian society. If, for example, Erna Solberg tossing me out of the country leads to my death, she will suffer the same fate.” Solberg is head of the Norwegian Conservative Party.
So it was that on Monday of last week, to the surprise of many, an Oslo court actually took action against Krekar – not only for his threat against Solberg, but also for similar threats against other, less high-profile individuals. Sentenced to five years in prison, he was released pending appeal. His lawyer, Brynjar Meling, admitted that the court's decision took him and his client aback. And understandably so – after all, Krekar has been a clear and present danger in Norway for years and yet has been allowed to reside in Oslo, living proof of the fecklessness of European governments in the face of the enemy within. Why start taking this peril seriously now?
In court last Monday, Krekar insisted, in his defense, that his singling out of Solberg was mere happenstance. “Solberg was just a name that popped into my head,” he said. “It's as if I'm talking about German philosophy and mention Schopenhauer or Hegel – it's just a name. She was just a symbol for me.” In other words, he isn't particularly set on killing Solberg – there's a whole bunch of other Norwegian officials whom he could just as happily kill instead. (Great defense: if I'm willing to blow just anyone to bits, you must acquit!)
Krekar went on to say something that came off (such is his wont) as yet another threat: “Muslims must provide security to the country that has given them security. As long as I received security and safety here, Norwegians were able to enjoy the same thing.” And now that Norwegians were threatening to lock him up? The mullah's point is clear: if Norway makes war on him, he'll make war on Norway.
Following his court appearance, Krekar headed for the studios of Norway's TV2 to be interviewed by Al-Jazeera. When a TV2 reporter asked for a comment on the way out, Krekar got a tad violent (video here). Two, um, journalists from Al-Jazeera restrained him, whereupon one of them asked TV2's cameraman to hand over the video of Krekar's outburst. His request was, admirably, denied. One of the two Al-Jazeera boys then complained that TV2 had been wrong to videotape Krekar: it was, he said, a simple matter of “respect.” Among other things, this encounter tidily demonstrated – old news, of course – that for many Muslims, “respect” between themselves and infidels is a one-way street.
The next day, Tuesday, Krekar was arrested in his home for having issued yet more death threats. This time, his defense was that the latest threats were merely “hypothetical.” What had happened, apparently, was this: after his TV2 adventure, he went home and logged into a jihadist chat room where he'd said something to the effect that “if anyone were to kidnap and keep Norwegians imprisoned in a basement just as long as he [Krekar] remained in prison, whether it was five or ten years, it wouldn't hurt his case.” Asked by his online interlocutors about the use of knives or grenades, he is said to have replied that these were “teenage methods.”
Tuesday evening, a TV2 team was stationed outside Krekar's Oslo home preparing to broadcast a live segment when a group of Muslims began throwing stones at them and shouting “Allahu akbar.” (Video here, but you can't really see much.) When the TV2 car drove away, it “was struck by one or more stones.” TV2's reporter, Kadafi Zaman, observed: “This shows that Krekar has dedicated followers.” It also underscores, as Progress Party official Mazyar Keshvari noted, that certain areas of Oslo are heading down the same road as places like Rosengård, a heavily Muslim neighborhood in Malmø, Sweden, where police officers and firefighters are now routinely pelted with stones every time they venture into “Islamic territory.”
Meanwhile Anjem Choudary, the Britain-based jihadist, told TV2 that Norway's treatment of Krekar will enrage Muslims worldwide. Choudary said that his own people have been contacted by Krekar's supporters in Norway – and that they're angry. First the atrocities committed by Anders Behring Breivik last July, now the Norwegian authorities' treatment of Krekar: these developments, said Choudary, are causing Norwegian Muslims to “wake up” – and to seek out ways to react. You can be sure they're not reading up on Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
On Wednesday Krekar was placed in protective custody for eight weeks, and it was reported that his “movement” was calling for protests outside Norwegian embassies and consulates around the world. This was all very interesting: for years, almost invariably, Krekar had been painted by the Norwegian media as an isolated figure who had left the terrorist group Ansar al-Islam and now led a quiet, pious life centered on family, study, and private worship; now, suddenly, those same media were acknowledging that he's a man with “supporters” and “followers” – the head of a “movement.”
Thursday brought new details about the circumstances under which Krekar had made his latest threats. Hundreds of “students” around the globe, it was reported, take online “courses” from Krekar – and those “courses” include statements that “can be perceived as encouraging terror.” According to Aftenposten, Krekar has suggested to his “students” that Norwegian authorities might be persuaded to release him from prison if, say, his followers were to carry out suicide bombings, take hostages, and/or knife Norwegians. The same day, however, a prominent lawyer, Jon Wessel-Aas, insisted that Norway was “overreacting” to Krekar: “He's not doing anything other than wishing for God's will to be done,” maintained Wessel-Aas, who argued that such matters of faith lie “outside the purview of a judicial system.” Norway's treatment of Krekar, in Wessel-Aas's view, was a simple matter of anti-Muslim prejudice: if the mullah were Christian, he wouldn't be subjected to all this official harassment.
The circus, in short, continues. Stay tuned.
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