Danish police have shot and wounded a man with alleged Islamic militant connections at the home of Kurt Westergaard, who drew one of the controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in 2005, sparking outrage in the Muslim world.
Denmark’s intelligence agency said in a statement today that a 28-year-old Somali man, armed with a knife, broke into the cartoonist’s home in Aarhus on the night of January 1. Danish authorities later said the man has been charged with two counts of attempted murder.
But Westergaard and his five-year-old granddaughter, who was staying at the house, sought shelter in a specially made safe room.
The cartoonist pressed a security alarm and police arrived within minutes. The authorities said that police officers shot the man in the knee and a hand before arresting him.
The intelligence agency said the attack was “terror related.”
“The attempted murder of cartoonist Kurt Westergaard is linked to terrorism. The person arrested has close links with the Somali terrorist organization Al-Shebab as well as the heads of Al-Qaeda in East Africa,” said statement from the intelligence agency.
It said that the Somali man has been under surveillance by the security service “for a long time.”
Danish officials said today that Westergaard, who is in his 70s, was “shocked” but not hurt in the attack.
Westergaard drew one of 12 cartoons depicting the Islamic Prophet printed in the Danish newspaper "Jyllands Posten."
The cartoons were considered offensive by many Muslims.
They prompted angry reactions and violent riots in many Muslim nations, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Dozens were killed during the protests.
Danish embassies came under attacks and Danish products were boycotted in several Muslim countries.
"Jyllands Posten" apologized for publishing the cartoons in 2006, but other media in Europe reprinted them.
Westergaard, whose cartoon depicted Islam’s Prophet with a bomb in his turban, has since received many death threats.
Islamic militants have reportedly placed a million-dollar price on the cartoonist’s head.
Westergaard’s house in Aarhus is under heavy police protection.
Two Tunisian men were arrested in Denmark in 2008 on suspicion of plotting to murder the cartoonists. Both were eventually released without trial.
The Danish government has distanced itself from the cartoons. However, it has rejected calls to apologize for the cartoons, saying the government is not responsible for the content of the free press.