AP file photo of Mulla Krekar in court in Norway.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Only the Islamic State (ISIS) can “fulfill our ambitions and dreams,” said firebrand Kurdish cleric Mulla Krekar, who was recently freed from a Norwegian jail.
“The Islamic State is not something strange; it is the only element that can fulfill our ambitions and dreams,” he said in an Al Jazeera interview.
The 58-year-old preacher added that all Muslims calling for resistance to the extremist Sunni ISIS “Caliphate” are “cowards,” and accused them of following orders from the United States and Shiite Iran.
He called upon ISIS to appoint someone “with the courage to fight the infidels and truly lead.”
Krekar was released from prison in Norway at the end of January after a two-year sentence for threats against Prime Minister Erna Solberg, before she came to office, and three Kurds.
A Norwegian court this week banished Krekar, who admits to founding the al-Qaeda affiliated Ansar al-Islam and whose real name is Najmeddine Faraj Ahmad, to a refugee center in the remote Norwegian village of Kyrksaeteroera.
Krekar told Al Jazeera that Iran was the real culprit in the region, playing “the role of devil and hypocrite.”
Referring to Iran’s support for Iraq and Syria – where both governments are from the minority Shiite sects -- Krekar said Tehran had “lost (the support of) 1 billion Sunnis in order to get 175 million Shiites.”
Krekar has faced multiple legal charges in Norway, where he has lived with his family since 1991.
The Aftenposten newspaper reported Monday that Norway was considering Krekar’s extradition to Italy, where authorities may want to question him about allegedly running a network to recruit jihadists in several European countries.
Krekar, a flamboyant Kurdish Islamist in exile, is wanted in the Kurdistan Region for terrorism charges dating back to the late 1990s and early 2000, when he founded the jihadist Ansar al- Islam. He declared a caliphate-like colony in the southern Kurdish towns of Biara and Tawela in the run up to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.
The US air force demolished Ansar al-Islam strongholds after the Iraq invasion and dismantled the group’s network.
Kurdish authorities say Ansar al-Islam was responsible for killing and torturing numbers of locals in the area who resisted the caliphate and want to try Krekar for the atrocities.
But leading Kurdish Islamist parties with political strength have reportedly pushed authorities in Kurdistan to terminate the charges against Krekar and ease his return.
“We know that Mulla Krekar’s brother has been in talks with the authorities in Kurdistan to make the (legal) arrangements for his return,” Muhammad Hakim, a senior spokesperson for Kurdistan’s Islamic Society (KIS), said recently.
“We would be happy to have him (Krekar) among us, if he chooses to continue his struggle within our party,” Hakim added. Similar remarks have been voiced by other Islamist parties.