- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 27, 2011

OSLO (AP) — A Norwegian prosecutor has filed terror charges against three men accused in an al-Qaeda-linked plot to attack a Danish newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammad.

Director of Public Prosecutions Tor-Aksel Busch filed an indictment late Monday against Mikael Davud, Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak and David Jakobsen, who were arrested in July 2010. All three have pleaded not guilty.

Investigators believe the plot was linked to the same al Qaeda planners behind 2009 schemes to blow up New York’s subway and a British shopping mall. An Associated Press investigation last year showed all three plots were thwarted after suspected operatives exchanged emails — sometimes poorly coded — in and out of Pakistan.

Mr. Davud, a 40-year-old ethnic Uighur from China, was charged with receiving explosives training at an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan and agreeing to blow up one of several offices of the newspaper Jyllands-Posten in Denmark.

Mr. Bujak and Mr. Jakobsen are accused of joining the plot in 2009 and helping acquire bomb-making chemicals. Police say they had the men under surveillance and even replaced a key ingredient with a harmless liquid to ensure they wouldn’t succeed in building a bomb.

Mr. Davud and Mr. Bujak, a 38-year-old Iraqi Kurd, also were charged with plotting to shoot Kurt Westergaard, one of the Danish cartoonists who drew the 12 caricatures of Muhammad in 2005. The cartoons sparked riots in Muslim countries and put the newspaper in the cross hairs of radical Islamists.

Mr. Bujak told police the target of the Norwegian plot was Jyllands-Posten. But Mr. Davud claims that he wanted to bomb the Chinese Embassy in Oslo and that the other two were not aware of his plans, according to his lawyer, Carl Konow Rieber-Mohn.

In Norway, plotting a terror act alone is not a crime. If at least two people are involved, they can be convicted of conspiracy.

Mr. Rieber-Mohn told the AP that he was “surprised” that the prosecutor ignored Mr. Davud’s version of events in the indictment.

Mr. Jakobsen, a 33-year-old Uzbek national, became a police informant in November 2009 but still faced charges for his involvement in the plot before then.

“He is disappointed,” Mr. Jakobsen’s defense lawyer, Rene Ibsen, told the AP. “He went to the police because he was troubled by the information he had gotten (about the plot), and he cooperated with police to get additional information.”

Mr. Bujak’s lawyer didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

All three suspects deny any links to al Qaeda.

If convicted, they could face up to 12 years in prison. The trial is set to start on Oct. 31.