Swedish cartoonist murder plot foiled

Seven people have been arrested in
the Irish Republic over an alleged plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist for
depicting the Prophet Muhammad, police say.

The four men and three women are
all Muslim immigrants, according to media reports, though a police statement
did not confirm this.

Cartoonist Lars Vilks had depicted
the Prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog in the Nerikes Allehanda newspaper.

Islamic militants put a $100,000
bounty on his head.

Mr Vilks was quoted as saying he
was unfazed by the arrests, which he said he thought could be linked to two
death threats he had received by telephone in January.

Irish police said the seven
suspects were arrested after an investigation into a “conspiracy to murder
an individual in another jurisdiction”, a probe that also involved police
in the US and other European countries.

The suspects range in age from
their mid-20s to late-40s.

Ireland’ RTE news network said
those in custody were originally refugees from Morocco and Yemen, but had
gained asylum and were in the Republic of Ireland legally.

In 2007 a group linked to al-Qaeda
in Iraq offered a $100,000 reward for killing Mr Vilks, and a 50 per cent bonus
if he was “slaughtered like a lamb” by having his throat cut.

It offered another $50,000 for the
murder of Ulf Johansson, editor-in-chief of the regional newspaper, Nerikes

The Vilks controversy arose in
2007, when his entry in an arts project was published by the newspaper.

It pictured a dog with the head of
a bearded man in a turban.