Danish police said on Saturday they shot and wounded a Somali man with al-Qaeda links when he tried to break into the home of a cartoonist whose 2005 caricatures of Prophet Muhammad sparked global Muslim outrage.
The 28-year-old man, armed with a knife and axe, failed to get into Kurt Westergaard’s home in the town of Aarhus late on Friday and was shot in the leg and hand after he threw the axe at a policeman, a police spokesman said.
The man, now under arrest, had “close ties to the Somali terror organisation al-Shabaab as well as to al-Qaeda leaders in East Africa”, the Danish Security and Intelligence Service PET said in a statement.
The man, who had a legal residence permit for Denmark, was also “suspected of being involved in terror-related activities in East Africa”, it said.
The security service said the man, who would be charged with attempting to kill Westergaard and the police officer, had been involved in a “terror-related network” that had long been under investigation in connection with threats to Westergaard.
“PET looks very seriously upon this case which once again confirms the terror threat directed against Denmark and the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard in particular,” PET chief Jakob Scharf said in the statement.
Westergaard (74) who depicted Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban, was not hurt in the incident, a police spokesperson said.
He said police were investigating whether the Somali man acted alone in the attempted attack at Westergaard’s home, which is widely reported to be under tight security.
Last year, US authorities arrested two men in Chicago who were suspected of planning attacks on Westergaard and his newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which published the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad.
Most Muslims consider any depiction of the founder of Islam as offensive, and when other newspapers reprinted the caricatures in 2006 it triggered violence in a number of countries.
Three Danish embassies were attacked and at least 50 people were killed in rioting in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Several young Muslims have since been convicted in Denmark of planning bomb attacks, partly in protest at the cartoons.
In 2008, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden said Europe would be punished for the cartoons. Denmark’s Muslim community makes up about 3% of the 5,5-million population. – Reuters