Iraqi-born cleric jailed in Norway for praising Paris attack

AP News
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Posted: Oct 30, 2015 10:24 AM

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A Norwegian court has sentenced an Iraqi-born cleric to 18 months in jail for praising the slaying of cartoonists at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had lampooned Islam and other religions.

The Oslo city court also found Najmaddin Faraj Ahmad, known as Mullah Krekar, guilty of urging others to kill a Kurdish immigrant in Norway in the same interview with Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

"Whoever offends our religion and our honor must understand that this is a conflict about life and death," Ahmad told NRK, adding a cartoonist is "a fighting heathen whom it is permissible to kill." The interview was broadcast Feb. 26 — the day after he was arrested.

On Jan. 7, two Islamic extremists attacked the paper in Paris, leaving 12 people dead. A second attack two days later on a Kosher grocery store in the French capital killed five others. All three gunmen died in clashes with police.

Ahmad also was ordered to pay 75,000 kroner ($8,750) in compensation to Halmat Goran, the Kurdish immigrant .

Throughout the trial, Ahmad denied any wrongdoing, arguing his statements were an interpretation of Sharia law.

Earlier this year, Ahmad was freed after nearly three years' imprisonment for making death threats. The 59-year-old Kurd, who came to Norway as a refugee in 1991, was convicted in 2005 for a similar offense.

His lawyer, Brynjar Meling, said they have not decided whether to appeal.

Norway and the United States have accused Ahmad of financing a defunct Iraqi Sunni insurgent group called Ansar al-Islam. It reportedly merged with the Islamic State group last year.