COPENHAGEN – Police foiled an attempt to kill an artist who drew a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad that sparked outrage in the Muslim world, the head of Denmark’s intelligence service said today.
Jakob Scharf, who heads the PET intelligence service, said a 28-year-old Somalia man was armed with an ax and a knife when he attempted to enter Kurt Westergaard’s home in Aarhus shortly after 10 p.m. on Friday.
The attack on the artist, whose rendering was among 12 that led to the torching of Danish diplomatic offices in predominantly Muslim countries in 2006, was “terror related,” Scharf said in a statement.
“The arrested man has according to PET’s information close relations to the Somali terrorist group, al-Shabaab, and al-Qaida leaders in eastern Africa,” he said.
Scharf said without elaborating that the man is suspected of having been involved in terror-related activities during a stay in east Africa. He had been under PET’s surveillance but not in connection with Westergaard, he said.
Police shot the Somali man in a knee and a hand, authorities said. Preben Nielsen of the police in Aarhus said the suspect was seriously injured but his life was not in danger.
The man, who had a staying permit in Denmark, was to be charged today with attempted murder for trying to kill Westergaard and a police officer, Scharf said.
It was unclear whether the suspect managed to actually get inside the home of the 75-year-old cartoonist in Denmark’s second largest city, 124 miles northwest of Copenhagen.
Westergaard, who had his 5-year-old granddaughter on a sleepover, called police and sought shelter in a specially made safe room in the house, Nielsen said. Police arrived two minutes later and tried to arrest the assailant, who wielded an ax at a police officer. The officer then shot the man.