Police arrested five men in Sweden and Denmark on Wednesday in connection with a terror plot against two Danish newspapers that published cartoons in 2005 depicting the Prophet Mohammad. The Danish security service PET said authorities there moved to prevent "an imminent terror attack, in which several of the suspects can be labeled militant Islamists with links to international terror networks."
Danish officials said four of the suspects had entered the country Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning and were planning to strike within days. PET General Director Jacob Scharf said the suspects planned to force their way into the Copenhagen building which housed the Jyllands-Posten and Politikens newspapers "and kill as many as possible of the people present there." Authorities seized a machine gun with live ammunition and a silencer as well as plastic strips that can be used as handcuffs in connection with the arrests.
The New York Times reported that the four suspects arrested in Denmark included a 29-year-old of Lebanese origin; a 44-year-old Tunisian citizen; and a 26-year-old asylum seeker from Iraq who lived in Copenhagen. Swedish police identified the fifth suspect as a 37-year-old Swedish national of Tunisian origin.
Riots and death threats followed Jyllands Posten's publication of the Mohammad cartoons five years ago, and authorities have thwarted numerous subsequent plots against cartoonists deemed to have blasphemed the Prophet. It was the fourth plot targeting the Jyllands-Posten in the past year alone, the Wall Street Journal reported. It quoted Magnus Ranstorp, research director at the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College calling this attempt "without question the most serious."
In January 2010, an al-Shabaab supporter carrying an axe and a knife tried to enter the home of cartoonist Kurt Westergaard in Denmark. In March, David Coleman Headley pled guilty to participating in a plot to attack Jyllands-Posten's offices in retaliation for the Mohammed cartoons. Also, in March, an indictment against a Pennsylvania woman named Coleen LaRose (aka "Jihad Jane") was unsealed. Authorities say she participated in a plot to murder a Swedish cartoonist.