9 arrested in Denmark in suspected terror plot

September 06, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

BERLIN -- Nine men suspected of gathering explosives for a terrorist plot were arrested in Denmark early yesterday, Danish authorities said.

Police said the men, including an ethnic Dane and eight men with immigrant backgrounds, were arrested in a 2 a.m. raid in Odense, in western Denmark. The suspects possessed "materials that can be used for the construction of explosives in connection with preparation for an act of terror," the Danish Security Intelligence Office said in a statement.

The nine men had been under surveillance. Officials did not say what the men were targeting or what stage the suspected plan had reached.

Lars Findsen, head of the intelligence office, said the arrests were made because "with the general terror situation," authorities did not want to "run any unnecessary risk."

Justice Minister Lene Espersen told Danish television: "The clues police found indicate that they were very likely planning an attack somewhere in Denmark. It was the most serious matter I have had in my time as justice minister."

The arrests were made nearly a year after the Jyllands-Posten newspaper printed cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad. The drawings, including one in which Muhammad is wearing a headdress shaped like a bomb, led to weeks of protests and rioting across Europe and the Middle East.

About 200,000 Muslims live in Denmark, which has a total population of 5.4 million. Strains have increased with the rise of the anti-immigrant Danish People's Party and Denmark's support of President Bush's policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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