A court Wednesday rejected an appeal by the founder of Ansar al-Islam, an Islamic terror group in Iraq, and upheld a government order to expel him from Norway as a threat to national security.

The Kurdish leader Mullah Krekar, a refugee in Norway since 1991, challenged the order to strip him of his refugee status and deport him to Iraq.

In its ruling, the Borgarting appeals court in Oslo rejected his appeal, found that the government has the right to expel him, and ordered Krekar to pay $44,960 in legal costs.

Krekar's lawyer, Arvid Sjoedin, said he would review the ruling before deciding whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The latest decision upholds a September 2005 ruling by the Oslo City Court that also said the government's grounds for expelling Krekar as a security risk were valid.

The appeals court said it was unlikely that Krekar could be expelled immediately, "because conditions in Iraq are currently such that he cannot be returned due to Norway's international obligations" to ensure his safety.

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Krekar has said he no longer leads Ansar al-Islam, and denies links to Al Qaeda.

Born Najm al-Din Faraj Ahmad, Krekar founded the group listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and others. Ansar al-Islam is also suspected in suicide bombings of coalition forces in Iraq.

Krekar has been in and out of police custody during investigations on charges that included financing terror and plotting to kill political rivals in northern Iraq.

However, Norwegian police dropped all charges against Krekar in June 2004, citing lack of evidence and fears that witness testimony in Iraq was coerced.

Krekar was arrested at an airport outside Amsterdam, Netherlands, in September 2002, after Iran denied him entry and sent him back to Europe. He was deported to Norway in January 2003.