Three Turku men arrested in Iraq on suspicion of terrorist contacts
According to report on Finnish television, three men from Turku had been arrested in Iraq, suspected of contacts with terrorist organisation.
The investigative programme MOT on YLE TV-1 revealed on Monday that the three Finnish citizens of Kurdish origin had been arrested in the summer. One of them had been released for lack of evidence.
The YLE journalist found the two in ain Iraqi prison in Suleiman, in the Kurdish regions of Iraq. Officials say that they had been in contact with the Ansar al-Islam and Ansar al-Sunna Islamist groups, which have claimed responsibility for a number of murders, kidnappings, and bombings in Iraq.
One Kurdish man who came to Finland in 1996 is suspected of leading a group in Turku which is part of a broader organisation of extremists. According to MOT, the group has raised funds for activities in Iraq, and the money has been sent to the area in the form of cash, taken there by individual travellers.
Producers of the programme say that the information is based on several sources that are independent of each other.
A man who is suspected to be the leader of the Turku group, was arrested in Iraq in late May, and again in August.
Iraqi officials say that the man has worked together with Mullah Krekar, who is considered to be the founder of Ansar al-Islam. Krekar is currently living in Oslo. There are moves underway to deport him from Norway, where he is seen as a threat to state security.
The organisation has also operated in Sweden, where two men were sentenced in May this year to prison terms of seven and six years for preparing for terrorist crimes. The men had raised funds for Ansar al-Islam in Iraq.
The suspects have denied any terrorist connections. Petri Knape, deputy chief of the Finnish Security Police (SUPO), says that the police are keeping abreast of the situation, but that so far there is nothing that would warrant official action.
Reports of possible connections between Ansar al-Islam and Kurds living in Finland came last autumn from Abdoulmajid Hakki, a key figure in the Kurdish community in Finland who has lived in this country for years.
Hakki said that about 30 Kurds in different parts of Finland are involved. At that time, SUPO downplayed the terrorist allegations, suggesting that they could point to internal conflicts within Finland's Kurdish community.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Security Police sceptical of reports of terror links of Kurds in Finland (18.10.04)