Five arrested after Mohamed cartoon 'massacre' plot foiled
Published 30/12/2010 | 05:00
Danish and Swedish police said yesterday they had foiled a potentially devastating terrorist attack after arresting five suspected Islamic militants who wanted to "kill as many people as possible" in the offices of a Copenhagen newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed.
Denmark's intelligence service said it arrested four men in two raids in the suburbs of the capital and seized an automatic weapon, a silencer and ammunition. Swedish police said they arrested the fifth suspect, a 37-year-old Swedish citizen of Tunisian origin who was living in Stockholm.
Lars Barfoed, the Danish justice minister, described the plot as "outrageous" and said it was the "most serious terror attempt" ever in Denmark.
Jakob Scharf, the head of Denmark's intelligence service, told reporters that the militants had apparently planned to storm the Copenhagen offices of Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper, which published the controversial Mohamed cartoons in 2005. Once inside, they planned to fire automatic weapons at random, he said.
"They wanted to kill as many of the people present as possible," Mr Scharf said.
He described the suspects as "militant Islamic activists with relations to international terror networks".
The intelligence services arrested a 44-year-old Tunisian, a 29-year-old Lebanese-born man and a 30-year-old who were living in Sweden and had entered Denmark late Tuesday or early yesterday. The fourth person detained was a 26-year-old Iraqi asylum-seeker.
Swedish police did not immediately release details about the fifth man. They said the planned attack did not appear to be linked to a suicide bomb in Stockholm in early December, when an Iraqi-born Muslim blew himself up in a crowded shopping street after detonating a car bomb, injuring a few people. The Danish intelligence service said the four arrested in Denmark faced preliminary charges of attempting to carry out an act of terrorism.
A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Denmark said his organisation condemned any act of terrorism outright "regardless of the motives and motivations" behind them.
There have been at least four plots to attack 'Jyllands-Posten' and Kurt Westergaard, the artist who drew the most contentious of 12 cartoons, which were published in 2005 in an attempt to challenge perceived self-censorship.
The cartoons provoked violent protests in Muslim countries.
Islamic law opposes any visual depiction of the prophet for fear it could lead to idolatry.
In another cartoon-related incident in 2008, the Danish Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, was targeted in a car-bomb attack that killed six people outside. (©Independent News Service)