Mullah Krekar jailed again for Norway threats

Mullah Krekar, the founder of a radical Iraqi Kurdish Islamist group, has been sentenced to a year in jail in Norway for issuing threats against Norwegians, an Oslo court announced on Wednesday.

Mullah Krekar jailed again for Norway threats
Mullah Krekar in court earlier this month (Photo: Anette Karlsen/Scanpix)

The 56-year-old mullah, who founded the Ansar al-Islam group and who has lived in Norway since 1991, has already been given a five year prison sentence for threatening the life of a former government minister.

The court found Krekar, whose real name is Najmeddine Faraj Ahmad, guilty of calling for violent acts if he was convicted at his first trial five months ago.

On the chat forum, Krekar warned on March 24th that his conviction could lead to "a suicide operation" or random attacks on Norwegians by his supporters, suggesting possible kidnappings and hinting that Norway's former prime minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, could be a target.

Two days later, Krekar was jailed for five years for making death threats and calls to murder, including a death threat against ex-minister Erna Solberg who signed his expulsion order in 2003 because he was considered a threat to national security.

This latest conviction also covers witness coercion during his first trial and the sentence is to be served consecutively.

The prosecution had called for an 18-month prison sentence, while the defence wanted him acquitted, arguing that his statements were not threats but a reminder of the rules of Islam.

Krekar is, like his organisation, on terrorist lists drawn up by the United Nations and the United States. While he acknowledges having co-founded Ansar al-Islam, he insists he has not led the group since 2002.

He has avoided expulsion since the order was signed nine years ago because Norwegian law prevents him from being deported to Iraq until his safety can be guaranteed and as long as he risks the death penalty there.

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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.