Photograph by Carsten Koall/Getty Images.
A Danish court on Monday found four Muslim men guilty of terrorism for plotting to kill the staff of the newspaper that first published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005, an editorial decision that sparked protests at home and abroad.
The BBC reports that the men, three Swedish nationals and one Tunisian who were residents of Sweden, were each sentenced to 12 years in prison. They had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The men were arrested at the end of 2010 at the Danish Capital for planning to, in the words of prosecutors, "kill a large number of people" in the offices of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, which published a series of 12 editorial cartoons flippantly depicting Mohammed in September 2005. Police found a machine gun with a silencer, a handgun, and more than 100 bullets, and claim that the men were arrested mere hours before they were to carry out the attack. Danish and Swedish intelligence officers had worked together for months before the arrests.
According to Monday’s terrorism verdict, the act was deliberately designed not only to terrorize the newspaper office in Denmark, but also to frighten the population of the country. The prosecution asked for a 16-year penalty for each of the men, but the unanimous verdict gave each of the four defendants 12 years, the precedent from previous terrorism cases.
The cartoons immediately sparked protests in 2005 among Danish Muslims, and then spread to the rest of the Islamic world. Demonstrators bombed or set fire to Danish embassies in Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iran as part of their protests. One man broke into the home of one of the cartoonists and tried to kill him with an ax. The newspaper eventually apologized in 2010, but many Islamic militants remain resentful of Denmark.