Page last updated at 21:15 GMT, Saturday, 2 January 2010

Somali charged over attack on Danish cartoonist


The 28-year-old Somali was carried into court on a stretcher

A Somali man has been charged with trying to kill a Danish artist whose drawing of the Prophet Muhammad sparked riots around the world.

The suspect, who was shot by police outside cartoonist Kurt Westergaard's home in the city of Aarhus on Friday, was carried into court on a stretcher.

Police say he broke into the house armed with an axe and a knife.

The suspect, who denies the charge, was remanded in custody. Police say he has links with Somali Islamist militants.

The radical al-Shabab group in Somalia hailed the attack.

Kurt Westergaard Sept 2006
I locked myself in our safe room and alerted the police. He tried to smash the entrance door with an axe, but he didn't manage
Kurt Westergaard

Al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Muhamud Rage told AFP news agency: "We appreciate the incident in which a Muslim Somali boy attacked the devil who abused our prophet Mohammed and we call upon all Muslims around the world to target the people like" him.

The suspect, who cannot be named for Danish legal reasons, was charged with attempted manslaughter.

The BBC's Julian Isherwood in Copenhagen says he was wearing bandages on his arm and leg and a cloth over his head to conceal his identity as he was carried into court for a remand hearing in Aarhus.

Police say the 28-year-old suspect broke into Mr Westergaard's home and shouted in broken English that he wanted to kill him. He is also alleged to have attacked police with an axe when they arrived at the scene.

The 74-year-old cartoonist, who was in the house with his five-year-old granddaughter, raised the alarm from a specially designed panic room.

'Terror link'

The accused denied the charges, but reportedly did admit to being at the scene.

Outside the home of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard on 2 January 2010
Kurt Westergaard's home was supposed to be heavily fortified

The judge remanded him in custody for four weeks, two of which are to be spent in isolation.

Earlier, police said the suspect, who had a permit to stay in Denmark, had been shot in the knee and the shoulder.

And Jakob Scharf, who heads the Danish intelligence service PET, said the alleged attack was "terror related".

The assailant had close contacts with al-Shabab, Mr Scharf said, and had been under surveillance for activities unrelated to Mr Westergaard.

A prominent member of the Somali community in Denmark, Ahmed Daqane, told the BBC that Somalis there had to be more vigilant about extremism.

"They have to take care of themselves and talk to the young people who are doing wrong things and misusing Islam," he said.

Safe location

The shaken cartoonist told Danish news agency Ritzau: "I locked myself in our safe room and alerted the police. He tried to smash the entrance door with an axe, but he didn't manage."

Al-Shabab, meaning "the lads" in Somali, is on US foreign terror list
Youth wing of Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts that once held sway
Re-emerged after UIC ousted by Ethiopian troops in late 2006
Accused of al-Qaeda links and trying to topple interim government
Accused of Dec '09 suicide bomb on Mogadishu doctors' graduation
Blamed for 2008 stoning of 13-year-old Somali 'gang rape victim'

Mr Westergaard also told the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which originally published the cartoon in 2005 as part of a set of 12, that he had been taken to a safe location.

The cartoon depicted the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban.

In 2006 the newspaper apologised for the offence caused by the drawings, but other European media reprinted them.

Danish embassies were then attacked by Muslims around the world and dozens killed in riots.

Mr Westergaard went into hiding amid threats to his life, but emerged last year saying he wanted to live as normal a life as possible.

His house has been heavily fortified and is under close police protection.

Islamic militants have placed a $1m (£620,000) price on Mr Westergaard's head.

Although he is one of 12 cartoonists whose drawings of the Prophet Muhammad were published in Jyllands-Posten, he has had the highest profile.

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Observer Assassin shot in cartoonist's home has links to al-Qaida, say police - 25 hrs ago
The Independent Muslim terror suspect tries to assassinate Danish cartoonist - 30 hrs ago
ABC Online Attempted manslaughter - 31 hrs ago
South China Morning Post Somali charged with trying to kill Danish artist - 36 hrs ago
Philippine Daily Inquirer Somali charged with attempt to kill Danish cartoonist - 39 hrs ago

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