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December 28, 2010

Five Arrested in Plot to Attack Danish Paper

by Lisa Bryant

Authorities in Denmark and Sweden have arrested five people suspected of plotting to attack a Danish newspaper that published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed five years ago.

Swedish and Danish authorities say four men were arrested in two raids in Copenhagen suburbs. Another man was arrested in Stockholm. They said three of those arrested have Swedish nationality. Several appear to have North African or Middle Eastern backgrounds.

Authorities described them as militant Islamists, some with ties to international terrorist networks.

"It is our assessment at PET that the people we have arrested today, the three people who travelled to Denmark from Sweden were preparing a terror attack against a newspaper, it was our understanding that it was Jyllands Posten in Copenhagen," said Jakob Scharf, head of the Danish Security and Intelligence Services, or PET.

Danish TV showed police cars surrounding a drab building, with police staking out the site.

Danish authorities say the men had been planning to enter the Copenhagen offices of a Danish newspaper and to shoot as many people as possible. The newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, published a dozen cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed five years ago that sparked anger and riots across the Muslim world.

There have since been several foiled plots to attack the newspaper and cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who drew one of the most controversial of the Prophet Mohammed cartoons.  

Westergard now lives with police protection. But in several interviews over the past few year years, including one broadcast on Canadian television, he has been unapologetic about his work.

"I think, simply, I have done my job," he said. "It is my job to be a cartoonist and perhaps now and then to make controversial things."

Westergaard told a Danish newspaper he expected more attacks in the future.