ByÂ Ariel Zirulnick, The Christian Science Monitor
The Danish intelligence agency said Wednesday that it had arrested five men suspected of an â€œimminentâ€ terror plot against the Danish newspaper that ran controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005.
The arrests come only a couple weeks after central Stockholm was rocked by two explosions that Swedish police have deemed a terror attack. The plots in the two Scandinavian countries are unusual because the region has been largely removed, until now, from the terrorism concerns that grip much of Western Europe.
Three of the men linked to the plot in Denmark are Swedish citizens and one of the five men arrested was arrested in Sweden, the New York Times reported. The men are not connected with the attack in Sweden, in which only the bomber was killed.
The men arrested in Denmark are a 44-year-old Tunisian, a 29-year-old Swede born in Lebanon, a 30-year-old Swede, and a 26-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker. The man arrested in Sweden was a 37-year-old Swede with Tunisian roots,Â Agence France-Presse reported. The Copenhagen Daily reports that the arrests stem from collaboration between Danish intelligence and Swedish law enforcement in aÂ long-term surveillance operation.
The cartoons, published in 2005 in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, featured caricatures of the Prophet, which are considered blasphemous by most Muslims and prompted anger and violent rioting in some Muslim countries.
The men planned toÂ kill as many as possible in the building housing the newspaper, the Copenhagen Daily reports.
Jakob Scharf, head of PET, described the suspects as â€œmilitant Islamists that had connections to international terror networksâ€.
â€œThe arrests underscore the terrorist threat that Denmark faces, and in particular anyone who is connected to the Mohammed drawings,â€ Scharf said.
This is not the first time the newspaper has been targeted by someone with suspected ties to terror groups.
Last year,Â a Somali man wielding an axe attempted to attack the cartoon artist, Kurt Westergaard. The Danish intelligence agency said the man had connections to Al Qaeda and Al Shabab, the Telegraph reported.
And the attack in Sweden may have also been linked to a controversial cartoon â€“ the e-mail threat connected to the attack references Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist who drew caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad as a dog in 2007 in the Swedish newspaper Tidningarnas Telegrambyra, the Monitor reported.
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