Four terrorists convicted of planning Mumbai-style attack on awards ceremony hosted by newspaper that printed cartoon of Mohammad
PUBLISHED: 14:01, 4 June 2012 | UPDATED: 14:25, 4 June 2012
Four men have been convicted by a Danish court for planning an attack on Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten newspaper, in retaliation for the paper printing offensive cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
The four men, all Muslims resident in Sweden, pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges. But, in a unanimous verdict broadcast on Monday morning, Glostrup district court found all four guilty of terrorism.
According to PET, the Danish security service, the men had planned to ‘kill as many people as possible’ by raiding an awards ceremony held by the newspaper. They face up to 16 years in jail when sentenced later on Monday.
Three of the men were seized in a Copenhagen flat in December 2010, along with a machine gun with a silencer, a revolver, 108 bullets, and 200 plastic handcuff strips – with which they were accused of planning an assault similar to the 2008 Mumbai attacks on two five-star hotels.
In the weeks following the arrests, the fourth man was picked up in a flat on the outskirts of Stockholm.
Another man, an Iraqi, was seized in Copenhagen, but was later released.
Sahbi Zalouti, 37, Munir Awad, 29, and Omar Abdalla Aboelazm, 30, are all Swedish citizens – of Tunisian, Lebanese and Moroccan descent respectively.
The fourth man convicted, 44-year-old Mounir Dhahri, is a Tunisian national.
PET said it seized the men only days before they planned to attack the Sporting Newcomer of the Year event, which was attended by Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik.
Jyllands-Posten has been a terror target since it published 12 satirical cartoons of Mohammed in 2005, breaking a taboo in Islam against depicting its prophet.
The most notorious cartoon showed Mohammad carrying a bomb on his head with a lit fuse, instead of a turban.
The cartoons sparked street protests around the world, leading to the bombing of the Danish embassy in Pakistan, and arson attacks on Danish embassies in Syria, Lebanon and Iran.
In its latest terror threat assessment, released at the end of January, PET argued that the country remained ‘a priority terrorist target among militant Islamists’ – partly because of the newspaper’s decision to reprint the cartoons in 2008.