They may have been targeting Lars Vilks, creator of the cartoon above, who had stated plans to attend the art center event that was evacuated the other night. An update on this story. “Sweden terror suspects ‘tied to Shebab Islamists,” from Agence France-Presse, September 12:
Four terror suspects arrested in Sweden at the weekend have ties to the Somali Islamist movement Shebab and were plotting an attack using bombs and firearms, a newspaper reported Monday.
Neither Sweden’s intelligence agency nor the police have confirmed the report, and have released few details about the arrests.
“Police suspect the men were about to carry out a terrorist attack with firearms and bombs,” Gothenburg regional daily GT said in its online edition.
“Police sources have told GT the suspects are linked to the terror network Shebab,” the paper said, without disclosing its sources.
The Al-Qaeda linked militia has waged a years-long insurgency against Somalia’s weak, Western-backed transitional government and controls much of the south and centre of the Horn of Africa country.
An elite counter-terrorism unit arrested four people in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second city, and evacuated hundreds of people from a building hosting an art fair “after concluding that there was a threat that could endanger lives or health or cause serious damage,” officials said on Sunday.
Police then searched the building, breaking open several lockers, the paper said.
It is not known why the venue was seen as a target, and art fair organisers have not been given an explanation, GT said.
The paper speculated that it could have been because of a Swedish artist, Lars Vilks, who has received death threats from Shebab for depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a dog.
Vilks had said publicly he planned to attend the event but in the end did not.
He has faced numerous death threats and a suspected assassination plot since his drawing was first published by a Swedish regional newspaper in 2007, illustrating an editorial on the importance of freedom of expression.
“Wherever you are, if not today or tomorrow, know that we haven’t yet forgotten about you,” a Swedish Shebab member, Abu Zaid, said in a video, according to US monitoring group SITE in November 2010.
According to Swedish news agency TT, the four suspects arrested late Saturday are aged 23 to 26 and are residents of Gothenburg.
Three of the men are born in Africa and the fourth in the Middle East, it said. The man born in the Middle East and two of the Africa-born men are Swedish citizens while another holds a Swedish residency permit, it added….