Danish daily terror plot target
Oslo - An Iraqi Kurd already in custody in Norway on suspicion of planning bombings has admitted plotting an attack on a Danish daily which published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, police said on Tuesday.
Investigators "extracted a confession about terror attack plans" from the man, a spokesperson for Norway's security police said, naming him as Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak, 37.
"Based on his declarations, everything indicates that the target was the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in Denmark," spokesperson Siv Alsen told AFP.
The Danish newspaper published 12 controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in September 2005, sparking outrage and protests across the Muslim world.
Bujak, who moved to Norway in 1999 and holds a Norwegian residency permit, was arrested in Germany on July 8 while on holiday with his family.
Two other suspects, Mikael Davud, a 39-year-old ethnic Uighur from China who is a Norwegian citizen, and David Jakobsen, a 31-year-old Uzbek with a legal residence permit in Norway, were arrested the same day near Oslo.
The three men are suspected of preparing one or several attacks on targets that police until now believed were in Norway.
According to police, the three had attempted to lay their hands on the necessary ingredients to produce explosives, including hydrogen peroxide, which the PST security police preventively swapped with a harmless liquid.
The Danish intelligence service PET said on Tuesday it could "confirm the information" made public by the Norwegian police.
"This is the second time in a very short period that the public has learned that Jyllands-Posten has probably been the target of organised terrorist acts," PET head Jakob Scharf said in a statement.
"This naturally illustrates that, among Islamic militants, it is a priority objective to lead terrorist attacks against Denmark and symbols related to the caricature case," he added.
Jyllands-Posten has repeatedly been targeted by threats and on September 10, Danish police arrested a Chechen-born man after a letter-bomb most likely destined for the newspaper exploded at a Copenhagen hotel.
Kurt Westergaard, the 75-year-old creator of the most controversial of the 12 drawings showing the Muslim prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse, has also faced numerous death threats.
On January 1, a Somali man suspected of having ties to the radical Shebaab Islamic movement and the leaders of al-Qaeda in east Africa broke into Westergaard's home armed with an axe.
The artist saved himself by hiding in a bathroom with an armoured door until the suspect could be arrested.
Westergaard has since been given round-the-clock police protection, while Jyllands-Posten has been forced to raise a barbed-wire fence and install surveillance cameras around its headquarters
Tuesday's revelation of the new plot against the daily "is very shocking for the paper's employees and their families," editor in chief Joern Mikkelsen said on its website.
In Oslo, Norwegian police said Bujak's suspected accomplices Davud, who is believed to be the mastermind of the group, and Jakobsen, were being questioned on Tuesday.
Some media have reported that Davud participated in an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan and had been in contact with one of the terror group's leaders.
Brynjar Meling, one of Bujak's two lawyers, however rejected that link on Tuesday.
Bujak "has rejected allegations that he is part of a terror cell. He also says he is not aware of any connections with al-Qaeda," Meling told the VG daily.