COPENHAGEN - Four men who planned a shooting rampage at the office of a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed were found guilty of terrorism Monday and each was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The men were arrested in late December 2010. Authorities say it was just hours before the four planned to carry out a violent attack on the Jyllands-Posten’s offices in Copenhagen.
The Glostrup City Court handed down prison sentences to Mounir Ben Mohamed Dhahri, Munir Awad, Omar Abdalla Aboelazm, and Sabhi Ben Mohamed Zalouti.
The men, Swedish residents who are of North African and Mideast origin, had been under surveillance by Swedish and Danish intelligence agencies but denied the charges at trial.
The four gave conflicting explanations about the purpose of their journey, which included New Year celebrations in the Danish capital and travel in Sweden.
Denmark has been in the crosshairs of Islamist terror groups since the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed in 2005, an act that offended many Muslims and sparked demonstrations and rioting in many Muslim countries.
Surveillance recordings played during the trial showed the four men meeting in Stockholm and discussing martyrdom, the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, and how they should kill as many people as possible inside the building housing the paper, but take one hostage.
The recordings also revealed them discussing what to do about women and children, whose lives they were apparently going to spare.
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.’’
The prosecutor said Dhahri, 46, was the mastermind. Prosecutors say Dhahri disappeared for two years in 2008-2010 and is believed to have received terror training in the Waziristan region of Pakistan. Dhahri denied this and said he traveled in Europe and Turkey.