- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 28, 2010

COPENHAGEN (AP) — Three terror suspects who were arrested in an alleged al-Qaeda plot in Norway likely were planning an attack against a Danish newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammad, Norwegian and Danish police said Tuesday.

The intelligence branch of Denmark’s police, PET, said the suspects were believed to be planning an attack either against the Jyllands-Posten newspaper directly or against people in Denmark linked to the 12 drawings that sparked outrage in Muslim countries in 2006.

The men were arrested July 8 in what U.S. and Norwegian officials believe was a plot linked to the same Pakistan-based al Qaeda planners behind thwarted schemes to blow up New York’s subway and a British shopping mall.

Siv Alsen, spokeswoman at the Norwegian Police Security Service, told the Associated Press that one of the suspects, 37-year-old Iraqi Kurd Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak Bujak, had disclosed the plot to investigators.

“We can confirm that he has confessed and explained about his role in planning terror. He was planning this together with the two others arrested,” Ms. Alsen said. “The information we got indicates that (the Jyllands-Posten) was the target.”

The other suspects in the case are 31-year-old Uzbek national David Jakobsen and the alleged ringleader, 39-year-old Mikael Davud, an Uighur who came to Norway in 1999 and has Norwegian citizenship.

Their lawyers have said they intend to plead not guilty to any terror charges.

Brynjar Meling, Mr. Bujak’s defense lawyer, confirmed to the Associated Press that his client had admitted to being involved in the plot.

“He says that it’s important as a Muslim to tell the truth,” Mr. Meling said. “It is important that the matter doesn’t become bigger than it already is and damage Muslims more than it already has done.”

Mr. Meling said Mr. Bujak told investigators the suspects had dropped their plans even before they were arrested and that Mr. Bujak wasn’t linked to al Qaeda in any way. Mr. Meling declined to comment on whether Jyllands-Posten was the target.

An AP investigation showed that authorities learned early on about the alleged cell by intercepting e-mails from an al Qaeda operative in Pakistan.

It was the second time this month that Scandinavian police said the Danish newspaper was the target of planned attacks.

On Sept. 10, a Chechen boxer was injured in a small explosion at a Copenhagen hotel while preparing a letter bomb, likely intended for the Jyllands-Posten, Danish police said.

PET chief Jakob Scharf said Tuesday that the two cases, which were not believed to be related, “illustrate that there is a priority among militant Islamists to carry out acts of terror against Denmark and symbols connected” to the cartoons.

Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the Prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.

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