Four men were convicted Monday of planning a terrorist attack on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005.
The men are Sweden residents of North African and Mideast origin who were arrested in December 2010, just hours before they had planned to carry out a shooting spree at the Jyllands-Posten's offices in Copenhagen. Sentencing is expected later in the day. They could face about 16 years in prison.
Munir Awad, Omar Abdalla Aboelazm, Mounir Ben Mohamed Dhahri and Sabhi Ben Mohamed Zalouti had been under surveillance by Swedish and Danish intelligence agencies at the time, but denied the charges during the trial. The four gave conflicting explanations about the purpose of their journey, including New Year celebrations in the Danish capital and travel in Sweden.
Surveillance recordings played during the trial showed the four men meeting in Stockholm and discussing martyrdom, the Jyllands-Posten newspaper and what they should do — kill as many people as possible inside the building housing the paper and take one hostage. The recordings also revealed them discussing what to do about women and children.
At a prayer service in Denmark before their arrest, the men were heard on a surveillance tape saying "when you meet the infidels, cut their throats."
Denmark has been in the crosshairs of Islamist terror groups since the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in 2005, an act that offended many Muslims and sparked demonstrations and rioting in many Muslim countries.
Last year, a Somali man living in Denmark was convicted of terrorism and sentenced to 10 years in prison after using an axe to break into the home of one of the cartoonists in 2010. A Chechen-born man was also sentenced last year to 12 years in prison for preparing a letter bomb that exploded as he was assembling it in a Copenhagen hotel in 2010. Last week, two Danish brothers of Somali origin were arrested for allegedly plotting an attack to avenge the cartoons' publication.