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Norway holds Iraqi militant leader


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OSLO, Norway (CNN) -- Norwegian officials have arrested the former leader of an Iraqi Islamic militant group of about 600 fighters that has been accused of attacking U.S. troops in northern Iraq.

Mullah Krekar, the former head of the Kurdish guerilla group Ansar al-Islam based in northern Iraq, was arrested by Norway's economic crimes unit on Friday afternoon in his apartment in Oslo, Senior Public Prosecutor Erling Grimstad told CNN.

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Grimstad, who will lead the prosecution, said Krekar, in his early 40s, was taken into custody without incident. "It was a controlled and quiet or calm situation," Grimstad said.

Washington has said the group has ties to al Qaeda.

Grimstad said he will ask that Krekar be held for four weeks while prosecutors prepare their case, and that his communications be monitored.

He will also ask that Krekar's first court appearance, to take place Saturday at 1 p.m. (1400 GMT), be closed to the news media, Grimstad said.

"We are saying nothing about what the case is about," he said. Though Krekar has been charged, "I have decided not to comment on the charges," Grimstad said.

Nor would he say where the man is being held or whether Norway had been in touch with U.S. officials about the arrest.

Krekar, who is being represented by lawyer Brynjar Meling, was born in northern Iraq and first came to Norway in 1991, Grimstad said.

Grimstad added that Friday's arrest was made after a 10-month investigation.


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