A Danish court has convicted four men over a plot to shoot and kill people at a newspaper over the 2005 Kurt Westergaard cartoon that depicted the Prophet Mohammad, which led to mass unrest in the Muslim world.
On Sept. 30, 2005, the Jyllands-Posten newspaper published a series of cartoons portraying the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. The purpose of the cartoons was to incite debate over self-censorship and Islamic criticism.
The cartoon was later published in more than 50 countries, but various Muslim organizations held protests. In Libya, 11 people died over the cartoon, the Austrian and Danish embassies were attacked in Tehran and approximately 700,000 marched the streets of Beirut.
Four men were convicted Monday of plotting a gun attack against Jyllands-Posten and to kill countless individuals. The group consisted of three Swedish citizens, Munir Awad, Omar Abdalla Aboelazm and Sahbi Ben Mohamed Zalouti, and one Tunisian man of Arab origin, Mounir Ben Mohamed Dhahri, who was accused of being the mastermind.
They were arrested in 2010 during a combined Danish-Swedish police operation and pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorist. One did plead guilty to illegal weapons possession, though.
The Associated Press reports that prior to their arrest during a prayer service in Denmark, the men were caught on surveillance saying, “When you meet the infidels, cut their throats.” Authorities discovered two automatic weapons with 122 rounds and more than $20,000 in cash in their possession.
Judge Katrine Eriksen announced in the court that the men were found guilty of terrorism. The men were acquitted on two counts of weapons possession for technical reasons.
“The accused are guilty of terrorism,” said Judge Eriksen, reports Reuters. “[They] agreed and prepared acts to kill people."
Denmark’s maximum sentence for terrorism crimes is between seven and 12 years. Chief prosecutor Gyrithe Ulrich sought 16 years for Dhahri and 14 years for the other three men, Abdoelazm, Awad and Zalouti.
This isn’t the first time that Denmark has been the target of Islamic attacks. Last year, one man was sentenced to 10 years in prison after using an axe to break into the home of the cartoonists. Also, last week, two Danish brothers with Somali origin were arrested for allegedly planning an attack against the newspaper.