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Norway court approves extraditing Iraqi-born cleric Mullah Krekar to Italy

Najmaddin Faraj Ahmad, also known as Mullah Krekar, can be deported to Italy, a court in Oslo has ruled. Rome suspects the Kurdish cleric of enticing young people to fight in Iraq and Syria.

Norwegian judges confirmed on Friday that all conditions had been met to extradite Krekar to Italy, where he would face terror-related charges.

The Oslo District Court had in June given permission to extradite the 60-year-old - a Kurdish cleric with alleged links to the self-styled "Islamic State" group. Krekar had appealed the case, but faltered on Friday at the Oslo appeals court.

Speaking to the AFP news agency, Krekar's lawyer Brynar Meling said that his client would appeal to Norway's Supreme Court. Meling said that his client only wanted to form a political party in Iraqi Kurdistan and that "this has nothing to do with terrorism."

The lawyer said Norway simply wanted to get rid of the man who could not be deported to his own country.

Watch video 05:22

Norway: Unwelcome Extremist

Krekar has been living in Norway as a refugee since 1991. Until now, a total of 13 people were arrested in connection with Krekar's case. Judges had earlier also authorized the extradition of another suspect, Kamil Jalal Fatah.

Italian authorities accused the man of founding the Ansar al-Islam group, which does not exist anymore. The organization, made up of Kurdish Sunni Muslims, was purportedly linked to IS and aimed to establish an Islamic government in Iraqi Kurdistan. Krekar is also accused of having enticed young people into his network.

Krekar was previously convicted of threatening Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and praising the murder of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists by IS gunmen in Paris in January 2015. Norwegian authorities ordered him to be expelled in 2003, after he was considered a threat to national security, but Norwegian law bars his deportation to Iraq, where he could face the death penalty.

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Belgium: Stopping the jihadist recruiters

mg/msh (AP, AFP)

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