New evidence links man to terror group

Evidence of links between an imam on trial on terror charges in Stockholm and the terrorist organisation Ansar al-Islam strengthened on Tuesday, after two witnesses told the court of appeal that the man was also known as Ali Sharia.

Since the 29-year old man was convicted in May by a Stockholm court, Agneta Hilding Qvarnström, deputy chief prosecutor, has received intercepted emails from German police and prosecutors between a terror suspect in German custody and a leading figure in Ansar al-Islam. The latter was said to be based in Iran.

In the email the two men discuss their concern over their failure to contact an Ali Sharia in Sweden. In April 2004, just a few days before four people were arrested in Sweden, the man now in custody in Germany sent two other men to Sweden to make sure that Ali Sharia had not been arrested. They came to Stockholm together with a 25-year old fast-food kiosk owner from Malmö and met the 29-year old imam.

The German terror suspect confirmed in a later email to the Ansar al-Islam leader that all was well with Ali Sharia. In July, the Iran-based leader emailed again to ask if there was any news from Sweden and whether “the sick have been released from hospital”.

The 25-year old from Malmö was convicted along with the 29-year old, and is also appealing his conviction.

Two of the witnesses called by the prosecution were Stockholm-based Iraqi Kurds. One of them, a 30-year old man, said he had socialised with the convicted imam on-and-off for two or three years. During that time, he said, he had known the man by the name Ali Sharia. He had only heard the name by which the imam is known to Swedish authorities since he was arrested.

Another man from Stockholm said he had known the imam by his official name, but after repeated questioning from prosecuting counsel he admitted that he knew that the 29-year old was also called Ali Sharia.

The imam’s defence lawyer, Peter Mutvei, had asked the court to allow him to call Hassan Moussa, imam at the Medborgarplatsen mosque in Stockholm and leader of the Swedish Council of Imams, as a witness.

Moussa wrote in an article in Expressen on Tuesday that he had received death threats after he condemned all terror in the name of Islam at Friday prayers. He also wrote that there were Muslims in Sweden who support terrorism and who are “prepared to go as far as necessary to acheive their goals.”

On Tuesday morning Mutvei withdrew his application to call Moussa as a witness.

TT/The Local

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