The Oslo Syndrome

Mullah Krekar has confirmed that his Ansar al-Islam really was behind the murder of the PUK Parliamentarian Shawkat Hajji-Mushir. Not that there were much doubt, but Krekar's word carries a lot of weight in Norway these days. Krekar justified the assasination by claiming that the PUK was trying to divide Ansar.

We felt we were being plotted against, that PUK was trying to divide Ansar al-Islam. .. When I heard the news that he had been killed, I assumed the PUK was behind it. [! -bs] I now see there was a complot against Ansar al-Islam. It was good that he was killed.
Say what you will about the practice of assasination as a means for peace negotiations, but it's certainly a refreshing break with old-fashioned European liberalism. Perhaps the Norwegian Liberal Party is planning a similar break with its past. Its youth organization invited Krekar to share his unique perspective on the Iraq conflict at a meeting in a café crowded with young Norwegians. Turned out his perspective isn't all that unique:
This was has nothing to do with democracy, but with oil. The world is standing between two dangerous men, Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush.
There were other Kurds at the meeting too - of the untrustworthy anti-Krekar kind. At least that's the impression I get from reading Aftenposten's article. You read this paragraph, and tell me I'm wrong:
Among those who had come to hear Krekar were also a group of Kurds. - You talk about peace, but you kill Kurds, shouted one of the Kurds. Krekar defended himself by saying that he and his group in Iraq didn't want to fight any of the other Kurdish groups in Iraq. He also accused the neighbouring states for supporting groups that made war on each others in Kurdistan. - We're trying to defend our independence, said Krekar.
I heard a report on NRK Radio from the meeting. The journalist sounded intrigued to learn that there were Kurds who actually disapproved of Krekar, and he had a very short talk with the Kurds at the meeting. It was too little, much too late. Among the more than 7000 Kurds in Norway, there should be more than enough material for several long articles about the political situation in Northern Iraq.

No Norwegian journalists seem interested in investigating this, though. Now, PUK has offered to present Norwegian authorities with evidence that Ansar is aiding al-Qaeda ..

We have taken Ansar al-Islam soldiers who came from Afghanistan as prisoners. They escaped to Krekar's organization after the Taliban regime fell.
.. and uses children as soldiers. The article is in Norwegian, but the photographs say it all. They show young boys in military training at a "summer camp" held in 2001 by the precursor to Ansar al-Islam, Jund al-Islam. Krekar categorically denies that Ansar has any soldiers younger than 17, but VG quotes the Kurdish newspaper Jamawar as claiming that Ansar has formed a military camp for children, called Said Salaam, in the area between Darga Shekhan and Balkha in Iraq. Be warned that since this comes from a source without a soft-speaking, charismatic representative in Norway, it might not be true at all.

It's a bit harder to dismiss this report from the Human Rights Watch. They went on a fact-finding mission to Iraqi Kurdistan last September, and found accusations of torture and ill-treatment against all sides, but Ansar al-Islam in particular, and stories of foreigners in Ansar's camps.

PUK officials have repeatedly accused Ansar al-Islam of having links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, and that its members included Arabs of various nationalities who had received military training in Afghanistan. The PUK also said some fifty-seven "Arab Afghan" fighters had entered Iraqi Kurdistan via Iran in mid-September 2001. While Human Rights Watch did not investigate these alleged links, the testimonies of villagers who had fled Biyara and Tawela and were interviewed in September 2002 appeared to support this contention. A number of them, including former detainees, said that there were foreigners among Ansar al-Islam forces, that on occasion they were interrogated by non-Iraqis speaking various Arabic dialects, and that they had heard other languages spoken that they did not recognize.
About Krekar, and the creation of Ansar al-Islam:
In July 2001, al-Tawhid joined with Hamas to form the Islamic Unity Front (IUF), which the Soran Forces also joined the following month. On September 1, 2001, the IUF was dissolved and its three component groups announced the formation of Jund al-Islam. The group promptly declared jihad (holy war) against secular and other political parties in Iraqi Kurdistan deemed to have deviated from the "true path of Islam". Following armed clashes in which the PUK defeated Jund al-Islam, the group was dissolved in December 2001 and renamed Ansar al-Islam. A long-time member of the IMK, Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, known as Mala Fateh Krekar, became its amir (leader).

The ideas and practices propagated by Jund al-Islam (and later Ansar al-Islam) represent a radical departure from mainstream Sunni Islam as practiced in Iraqi Kurdistan. The group appears to have more in common with ultra-orthodox Wahabi movements emanating from Saudi Arabia. This doctrine entails a literal interpretation of the Qur'an, and advocates a return to the proclaimed purity of the early Islamic community. Jund al-Islam declared it was seeking to "defend the areas under the influence of the Muslims from interference and control by the secularists," and that among its aims was "the propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice" (al-amr bil ma'ruf wal nahiy 'an al-munkar), as well as ensuring the application of shari'a and undertaking "the religious duty of jihad against the secularist apostates."
Maybe we should coin a new term for Krekar's PR success in Norway: The Oslo Syndrome. I'm not sure how to define it. It's related to intellectual fascination with totalitarianism, but it strikes a broader segment of the population, and there's no sympathy for the actual ideology involved. A major factor is the inability of a highly civilized, liberal democratic society to recognize evil and barbarism behind a polite facade. Another factor is political correctness, (Krekar would have been forgotten or hated if he'd been a fanatical Christian guerilla leader). I don't have all the pieces yet, but a name for it is a good beginning.


Thanks for that insightful comment! It makes interesting reading, especially when I need a payday loans.


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Tocq Magazine TocqLogBlog: The "Oslo Syndrome", February 15, 2003 02:20 AM

Say what you will about the practice of assasination as a means for peace negotiations, but it's certainly a refreshing

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