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Norway arrests Muslim cleric after Italian terror trial

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A Muslim cleric found guilty in Italy of planning terror attacks is detained in Norway on an Italian arrest warrant, The Norwegian domestic security agency says.

Iraqi-born Mullah Krekar, born Najm al-Din Faraj Ahmad, was detained late Monday, the PST security agency says. The agency tweets hours after an Italian court found Krekar guilty of attempting to overthrow the Kurdish government in northern Iraq and create an Islamic caliphate, and sentenced him to 12 years.

Italian prosecutors had alleged Krekar, who is based in Norway, is behind Rawti Shax, a European network aimed at violently overthrowing the government in Kurdistan. Krekar, who has denied the allegations, plans to appeal, said his Italian lawyer, Marco Vernillo.

In 2015, European authorities arrested 15 Iraqi-Kurdish nationals on terrorism-related charges. Rawti Shax recruited foreign terrorist fighters to be sent to Iraq and Syria and provided logistical and financial support, according to the Italian prosecutors who spearheaded the probe. They alleged that Krekar was the leader.

A refugee from Iraqi Kurdistan who came to Norway in 1991, the 63-year-old cleric has several convictions in Norway, including for threatening Prime Minister Erna Solberg. He also praised the 2015 extremist attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Krekar founded the now-defunct Ansar al-Islam insurgent group of Sunni Kurds that reportedly merged with the Islamic State group in 2014.

— AP

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