Murder plot suspects kept for questioning

The seven people arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of a suspected plot to assassinate Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks have had their periods of detention extended by an Irish court for another three days of questioning.

The four men and three women were detained in Cork and Waterford in Ireland on Tuesday over an alleged international conspiracy to murder Vilks, who controversially depicted the Muslim prophet Muhammad as a dog.

Two Libyan men and a woman – one Algerian man and a Palestinian woman – had their periods of detention extended at the closed court hearing on Wednesday night while a US woman and Croatian man were ordered back into police custody at a brief session on Thursday, according to the Irish Independent newspaper.

Under Section 50 of Ireland’s Criminal Justice Act they can be held without

charge for a maximum of seven days, said a spokesman.

A police spokeswoman declined to comment on the Irish Independent report

that the US suspect had visited Ireland on a “fact-finding trip” before her arrest in in the US in October.

LaRose is also thought to have paid a visit to Sweden during her a European trip that took in the Netherlands, according to a US government source cited by the The Washington Post.

The arrest of LaRose when she returned to Philadelphia on October 15th, was not revealed until details of the charges against her were disclosed on Tuesday, hours after the seven Muslims were arrested in an operation coordinated with US and European security agencies.

The regional daily Nerikes Allehanda started the controversy when it first published Vilks’ satirical cartoon on August 18, 2007 to illustrate an editorial on the importance of freedom of expression.

On Wednesday, leading Swedish newspapers published the cartoon in a demonstration of solidarity with Vilks.

Sweden’s paper of reference Dagens Nyheter insisted that Vilks “is not alone in this conflict” adding in an editorial: “A threat against him is, in the end, a threat against all Swedish people.”

The Expressen tabloid also published the cartoon, insisting it was important “to defend freedom of expression which is more and more threatened.”

US prosecutors said that LaRose had agreed to carry out the murder of a Swedish resident, pledging “only death will stop me”.

The US Justice Department has hitherto declined to confirm if LaRose was connected to the alleged plot to kill Vilks.

Lars Vilks has a $100,000 bounty on his head from an al-Qaeda-linked group.


‘Jihadist’ in Swedish cartoonist plot arrested

The man, who was travelling with an Irish passport, is wanted by authorities in the US for being part of an al-Qaeda cell suspected of planning an attack on a Swedish cartoonist.

'Jihadist' in Swedish cartoonist plot arrested
The suspect in Spain. Photo: Mossos d'Esquadra

Ali Charaf Damache was detained on Thursday evening at a hotel in the tourist heart of Barcelona, the Catalan regional Interior Ministry confirmed on Friday.

Police were alerted to his presence in Barcelona thanks to a telephone tip-off to the emergency 112 number.

“We became aware that this person was in Barcelona earlier this week,” said Jordi Jané, the regional interior minister for Catalonia in a press conference.

The 50-year-old holds both Irish and Algerian nationality and is wanted by the United States for alleged membership of a terrorist cell linked to al-Qaeda that recruited and radicalized Muslims and financed and planned terrorist attacks.
The US issued an international arrest warrant for him in July 2011 and he was detained in Ireland last year although two extradition requests were denied and he was allowed to go free.
The US alleges Damache conspired with American woman Colleen LaRose, who used the online name Jihad Jane, and others to create a terror cell in Europe.
LaRose was sentenced in January 2014 to 10 years in prison after being convicted of planning to murder Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who had depicted the head of the Muslim prophet Mohammad on a dog.
Lars Vilks emerged unscathed from an attack in Copenhagen last February in which two people died when a gunman opened fire during a talk on freedom of expression in which the cartoonist was taking part.