• Sweden's news in English

Swedes arrested over 'Muhammad cartoon plot'

AFP/The Local · 29 Dec 2010, 19:55

Published: 29 Dec 2010 14:09 GMT+01:00
Updated: 29 Dec 2010 19:55 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The head of Denmark's PET intelligence service said four men were arrested while a spokeswoman for Swedish intelligence agency Säpo said a fifth man had been arrested in Sweden in connection with the same plot against the Copenhagen-based Jyllands-Posten daily.

"It is our sense based on intelligence that this is a militant Islamic group with links to international terrorist networks," PET head Jakob Scharf told reporters.

They were planning an attack "within the next few days," PET said in a statement.

In an email to Danish news agency Ritzau, Danish justice minister Lars Barfoed said the arrest of the suspects, who had a "militant Islamist background," prevented what could have been the most serious attack to ever occur in Denmark.

Scharf told the news conference "the plan was to try to gain access to the location of Jyllands-Posten in Copenhagen and to try to carry out a Mumbai-style attack."

The 2008 attacks in Mumbai saw 10 heavily armed gunmen storm three luxury hotels, the city's main railway station, a popular tourist restaurant and a Jewish centre. The siege, centered around the luxury Taj Mahal Palace hotel, killed 166 people.

Several of the suspects could be described "as militant Islamists with connections to international terror networks," PET supremo Jakob Scharf said.

"These arrests have successfully stopped an imminent terror attack, where several of the suspects ... were going to force their way into the (building which houses Jyllands-Posten) in Copenhagen and kill as many people as possible," Scharf was quoted as saying in the PET statement.

The arrests took place in two suburbs of Copenhagen after a long investigation led in collaboration with Sweden's Säpo, PET said.

The man arrested in Stockholm is a 37-year-old Swede of Tunisian background.

Danish intelligence said the four men arrested in Denmark, in the Herlev and Greve suburbs of Copenhagen, were a 44-year-old Tunisian, a 29-year-old Swede born in Lebanon, a 30-year-old Swede and a 26-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker.

The first three were all living in Sweden and travelled to Denmark overnight. According to Jyllands-Posten's online edition, they travelled in a car rented in the Stockholm suburb of Kista.

Also at the Copenhagen press conference, Saepo head Anders Danielsson said the men based in Sweden had been under surveillance.

“We learned that people in Sweden were planning a terror crime in Denmark. We’ve known about it for several months. These people are known to the police in Sweden. We contacted our Danish colleagues. We’ve had people under intense surveillance. The whole time we’ve been working under the theory tha they would travel from Stockholm to Copenhagen, which they did yesterday,” said Säpo head Anders Danielsson said on Wednesday.

Jyllands-Posten published a dozen cartoons in 2005 of the Prophet Muhammad that triggered violent and sometimes deadly protests around the world.

It has since been the target of many foiled attacks.

In January, a Somali man broke into the home of the cartoonist who drew the Prophet with a turban shaped like a bomb and allegedly threatened to kill him with an axe and a knife.

In September, a suspect detained in Norway confessed that he was planning an attack against Jyllands-Posten. In another case the same month, a Chechnya-born man was arrested in Copenhagen for preparing to send a letter bomb to the paper.

"The arrests underscore the serious terror threat against Denmark and especially against institutions and people connected to the cartoon case," Scharf said Wednesday.

"It is shocking for our employees and their families to once again see their place of work threatened," said Lars Munch, the chief executive of Jyllands-Posten's parent company, adding the company had "great confidence in the police and intelligence service efforts to protect us."

PET said police seized plastic strips to be used as handcuffs, a machine gun and live ammunition in connection with the arrests.

Story continues below…

“We knew there were weapons in the car and the whole time we were ready to break off following them and take action if something had changed,” said Säpo’s Daneilsson.

“It was a balancing act between preventing an act of terrorism from being carried out and collecting evidence that could be used against the suspects which would hold up in court.”

An Islamist militant who killed only himself in Sweden's first suicide attack on December 11 said in a message sent before his death he wanted to punish Swedes for their "support of the pig Lars Vilks," referring to a Swedish cartoonist who drew an image of the Prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog in another publication.

Säpo spokeswoman Katarina Sevcik said the group arrested on Wednesday "have up to now no known connection to the events of December 11."

The PET said last month that there were "renewed indications that terrorist groups abroad are looking to send terrorists to Denmark to commit terrorist attacks."

"Denmark and Danish interests are a priority terrorist target," the agency said at the time.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Here's how slow Sweden's high-speed trains are getting
A Swedish SJX2000 high speed train. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The high-speed rail journey between the three biggest Swedish cities is about to get longer.

The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

US election
Donald Trump won't get new Ericsson head's vote
Trump pictured at a campaign rally in Florida. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

The new Swedish-American boss of telecoms giant Ericsson has revealed he will not vote for the Republican nominee in the forthcoming US presidential election.

Swedes named fourth most gender equal in the world
A file photo of men and women pushing prams in Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Sweden has closed 81 percent of its overall gender gap according to the World Economic Forum.

Sweden: Russian warships in the Baltic 'worrying'
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Two Russian warships equipped with long-range missiles have entered the Baltic Sea after passing Denmark.

Why businesses are worried about Sweden's drone ban
A drone filming in Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The Local investigates what Sweden's new drone ban could mean for businesses in the country.

This is the new top boss of Swedish Ericsson
Börje Ekholm. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/TT

Telecoms giant Ericsson has appointed a new CEO after a turbulent year for the company.

These are Sweden's best universities: ranking
A new university ranking has been released. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/Imagebank.sweden.se

At least according to this global ranking, which picks 12 Swedish universities among the top-1000.

Swedish pharmacies restrict paracetamol sales for teens
The move is intended to cut paracetamol overdoses. Photo: Nora Lorek/TT

Sweden's pharmacies are banning teens under 18 from buying more than one pack of pills at a time.

Rwandan genocide suspect held in Sweden
A memorial centre in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

A man has been arrested in Sweden suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide which claimed 800,000 lives.

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available