COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Danish prosecutors on Friday charged four people with terrorism for allegedly planning a shooting attack on a newspaper that had printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
The four men — Swedes living in Denmark — wanted "to seriously frighten the population" and destabilize Denmark by planning a shooting spree inside the Copenhagen offices of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, Svend Ulrik Larsen, Denmark's top prosecutor, said.
The paper published 12 cartoons of the prophet in 2005, sparking riots in Muslim countries and calls for revenge against the Danish publishers and cartoonists.
Larsen said the group traveled to Copenhagen with arms and ammunition, aiming to kill "a larger number of people."
Swedish and Danish intelligence officials said they have followed the men for months and tailed the their hired car from Stockholm before arresting them at a flat near the Danish capital.
The Danish Security and Intelligence Service described some of the suspects as "militant Islamists with relations to international terror networks."
"This is a very serious case. We believe they wanted to attack the (Copenhagen) newsroom of the Jyllands-Posten daily, possibly because of the Muhammad cartoons," Gyrithe Ulrich, the prosecutor who handles the case, told The Associated Press.
The daily is based in Aarhus, western Denmark, but has a newsroom in Copenhagen .
The Jyllands-Posten had asked Danish cartoonists to draw the prophet as a challenge to self-censorship. Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of Prophet Muhammad, even favorable ones, for fear it could lead to idolatry.
One of the four suspects was later released. A fifth suspect, however, was arrested in Stockholm on the same day as the other four on suspicion of conspiracy to commit terrorism. He has been since extradited to Denmark.
The men also were charged with possession of illegal weapons. Police said they found a submachine gun, a handgun and ammunition in raids in Copenhagen.
Ulrich said the trial would start on April 13 with the verdict is expected on June 14.
Under a court order, none of the suspects can be named.