Mullah Krekar on trial over death threats

Norway-based Islamist Mullah Krekar pleaded not guilty on Wednesday on the first day of his trial on charges of promoting terrorism and making death threats, most notably against the leader of the Conservative Party.

Mullah Krekar on trial over death threats
Photo: Berit Roald/Scanpix

”My client is not going to plead guilty to committing an offence. He’s a very religious person who has explained how Islam views a number of problems that were posed to him,” Krekar’s lawyer, Brynjar Meling, told news agency NTB shortly before the trial started.

Ther 55-year-old Krekar, a firebrand jihadist whose real name is Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, stands accused of threatening Convervative Party (Høyre) leader Erna Solberg during a meeting in Oslo with the international press on June 10th 2010. He risks up to 15 years behind bars if found guilty, according to Norwegian media reports.

Norway’s Supreme Court ruled in 2007 to expel Krekar from the country in the interests of national security in a decision signed By Solberg. But with Iraq unable to guarantee that Krekar would not be sentenced to death, Norway put the expulsion order on hold.

According to the charge sheet, Krekar said: ”Erna Solberg says, ’throw Mullah Krekar to his death’. She will pay the price for that with her own life. Who it will be that takes her life, I don’t know. Al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Islam, my relatives, my children, I don’t know.”

Before the Oslo court on Wednesday, wearing traditional Kurdish attire, Krekar hinted he would gladly repeat those declarations.

His lawyer Brynjar Meling stressed however that his client's words merely referred to Islamic principles and were protected under freedom of expression laws.

Krekar also stands accused of criminal incitement after he called for attacks on US soldiers in Iraq during an interview with US commercial broadcaster NBC.

The United Nations put Krekar on its list of known terrorists in December 2006. The United States also considers him a terrorist.

Krekar, the co-founder of Islamist militant group Ansar al-Islam, moved to Norway as a refugee from northern Iraq in 1991.

See also: Norway Islamist calls for new US terror attacks


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Norwegian bank tests ‘Islamic loan’ concept

Norwegian bank Storebrand is offering new ‘halal loans’ based on Islamic principles.

Norwegian bank tests 'Islamic loan' concept
Storbrand's headquarters in Lysaker. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix
The bank recently created a website promoting ‘ethical loans’ for home financing without interest. 
The bank writes that it is testing the idea of interest-free loans in part to appeal to Muslim home buyers who may not want to accept a traditional loan because of their faith. Islam prohibits charging interest or fees on financial loans. 
“We wanted to find out if there could be another way to enter a housing market with rising prices. The product could appeal to young people, new graduates or people who can not accept normal housing loans because of religious concerns,” the bank writes on a website that was set up to gauge interest in the idea. 
Within a week, around 300 people contacted the bank to express interest in the loans. 
“Storebrand is now currently evaluating the market potential for such a loan and considering what the product might look like. We have also been approached by financial advisers in the UK and Malaysia who want to help us to put together this type of loan,” the bank’s communication manager, Bjorn Erik Sættem, told Vårt Land. 
Although the bank says it is still merely testing the idea, its website states that instead of paying interest on a home loan the home buyers would pay rent on the property until they’ve paid in enough to achieve ownership. 
Sættem said that the bank has received “a handful” of negative reactions to what has been dubbed the ‘halal loan’, including some customers who have cut their ties with the bank.