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‘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.

AL QAEDA

Lars Vilks on Al-Qaeda ‘wanted dead or alive’ list

Controversial Swedish artist Lars Vilks is reported to be one of eleven people on a list of targets for extremists published by an Al-Qaeda linked group, according to a Reuters report

Lars Vilks on Al-Qaeda 'wanted dead or alive' list

Vilks is one of eleven targets named in an English language pamphlet published on several militant websites by AQAP – Al-Qaeda’s branch in the Arabian peninsula.

American pastor Terry Jones, writer Salman Rushdie, Dutch politician Geert Wilders and Danish artist Kurt Westergaard were others mentioned.

The targets are listed with name and photo in a two page spread entitled “Yes we can. A bullet a day keeps the infidel away” and shows a mock up of Terry Jones being shot in the head.

The pamphlet, published under the name Inspire Magazine, also called on French troops to leave Mali and gives advice on how to ignite a car.

The magazine has been in circulation since July 2010 and typically includes tips on how to carry out various terrorist activities and attacks.

Lars Vilks has faced numerous death threats and a suspected assassination plot since his drawing of the Muslim prophet with the body of a dog was first published by Swedish regional daily Nerikes Allehanda in 2007.

It illustrated an editorial on the importance of freedom of expression.

The drawing by Vilks prompted protests by Muslims in the town of Örebro, west of Stockholm, where the newspaper is based.

Egypt, Iran and Pakistan also made formal complaints about the drawing.

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