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Al Qaeda Suspect Held by Dutch

September 14, 2002|From Times Wire Services

AMSTERDAM — Airport police detained a Kurdish man with suspected links to Al Qaeda as he tried to travel to Norway to visit his family, Dutch government officials said Friday.

Mullah Najm Din Faraj Ahmad was arrested Thursday evening at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, a government official said. U.S. officials suspect that Ahmad, also known as Mullah Krekar, leads a militant Islamic group in northern Iraq called Ansar al-Islam.

Ansar al-Islam is believed to operate out of several remote Iraqi villages near the Iranian border, where it has allegedly experimented on people and animals with chemical or biological weapons. It is said to have about 500 members.

Its fighters are believed to have trained with Al Qaeda, and U.S. officials also suspect it of helping hide Al Qaeda members fleeing Afghanistan.

Dutch Justice Ministry spokesman Martin Bruinsma said international talks were underway to decide whether Ahmad should be extradited.

Ahmad, 46, was on his way from Tehran to Norway when Dutch intelligence agencies were tipped off that he would be stopping in Amsterdam, the Dutch government source said. Norway granted his family refugee status in 1992.

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