Ansar al-Islam Leader Arrested in Norway

Mullah Krekar, the spiritual leader of the Iraq-based Islamic militant group Ansar al-Islam, was arrested Friday, his brother told The Associated Press.

Police went to Krekar's house in the morning and took him to a police station in Oslo, said Khalid Faraj Ahmad.

"They won't allow me to go in. They want to take him," he said. "I don't know what they will do with him."

Krekar's lawyer, Brynjar Meling, told the Norwegian news agency NTB that new charges were filed against Krekar, but he wasn't told what they were. A phone call to Meling by the AP went unanswered.

Ansar al-Islam (search), a group of as many as 600 Islamic militants in the mountains of northern Iraq, is regarded as a terrorist organization by the United States and the United Nations.

During a visit to Oslo in September, Attorney General John Ashcroft called it a "very dangerous group" and said the organization maintained a network for terrorist training camps in northern Iraq.

Krekar, born Najm al-Din Faraj Ahmad, has repeatedly denied links with Al Qaeda, although he has called Usama bin Laden "a good Muslim." He has also denied any connection with recent bombings and terror attacks in Iraq, or any role in smuggling drugs in Jordan.

He was arrested at the airport outside Amsterdam on Sept. 12, 2002, after Iran had denied him entry and sent him back to Europe, tipping off Western governments that he was on his way.

He was interrogated twice by the FBI while in Dutch custody, and then deported in January to Norway, where he was arrested again.

He was released from a Norwegian jail in April after a court found insufficient grounds to hold him on terrorism charges. Police dropped the charges in July, but are investigating him on other charges that they refuse to reveal.

Krekar has had refugee status in Norway for more than a decade, something Norwegian authorities are challenging because he regularly returned to Iraq, the country he had fled during the reign of Saddam Hussein.

Krekar has lived freely in Norway since his release from jail in April when a court ruled there wasn't enough evidence to hold him on charges of terrorism.