Terror charge in alleged Danish cartoonist attack

Denmark’s top prosecutor on Friday charged a Somali man with terrorism for allegedly trying to kill a cartoonist who caricatured the Prophet Muhammad. Joergen Steen Soerensen said the man, who cannot be named under a court order, wanted to “seriously frighten the population” and destabilize Denmark in the January attack on Kurt Westergaard.

The suspect, who has been in custody since the attack, claimed he only wanted to frighten Westergaard and has denied all charges except of possessing weapons. Soerensen said the suspect was also charged with attempted murder of a police officer. If found guilty, he faces a life sentence, which in Denmark is generally reduced to 16 years in prison.

The Danish intelligence agency says the suspect has links with the Somali militant group al-Shabab and al-Qaida leaders in eastern Africa. A spokesman in Somalia for al-Shabab has denied the man is a member of the group.

Westergaard has faced several death threats over his depiction of Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban. The drawing was considered the most offensive of 12 Danish cartoons of the prophet that sparked an uproar in Muslim countries in 2006. He has lived under police protection since February 2008.

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