A jury in Glostrup ruled today that the four men charged with terrorism for planning an assault on the Copenhagen offices of Jyllands-Posten newspaper are guilty.
Found guilty were Swedish citizens Munir Awad, Omar Abdalla Aboelazm and Sahbi Ben Mohamed Zalouti, and Mounir Ben Mohamed Dhahri, a Tunisian national. All four were arrested in December 2010 after joint surveillance by Danish and Swedish security services uncovered the plot in which the men vowed to “kill as many people as possible” during a planned attack on the 2010 Årets Fund, a high-profile sports awards ceremony that is held in the Jyllands-Posten building. Jyllands-Posten has been the target of Islamic-inspired terror ever since it published cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in 2005, drawing the ire of Muslims around the world.
Awad, Aboelazm and Dhahri were arrested at a flat in the Copenhagen suburb of Herlev on 29 December 2010.They had travelled to Denmark by car the night before. Zalouti was arrested at his apartment in Stockholm and later extradited to Denmark.
Judge Katrine Eriksen said that the evidence revealed that the men were a terrorist cell and that communications that had been intercepted by both PET and the Swedish security police Säpo revealed that the men intended to attack the newspaper’s offices. She also mentioned the conflicting reasons the men had given during the trial as to why they were in Copenhagen when they were arrested.
One man had said that the trip was planned to coincide with New Year’s Eve so that the suspects could enjoy what he called Copenhagen’s 'famous' year-end fireworks. Earlier in the trial, the men had said that they had only been in Copenhagen to grab a bite to eat.
“We only came to Copenhagen because Mounir Dhahri wanted a Big Mac from McDonalds,” said Zalouti.
When the group was arrested, they had an assault rifle, ammunition, a silencer and plastic strips, which investigators initially believed were to be used in the New Year's Day attack.
The four men, who had been charged with one count of terror crimes and two counts of violating weapons laws, showed no emotion when the verdict was read.
All four had adamantly denied the terrorism charge, but Dhahri pleaded guilty to arms possession.
The court sentenced each of the men to 12 years in prison for their part in the plot. The prosecution had asked for a 16-year penalty, citing the preparations the men had made and pointing out that they were just hours away from making their attack when they were stopped by police. The court decided that there was not a compelling reason to give the four a harsher penalty than had been doled out in previous terrorism cases.