Seven arrests have been made in Cork and Waterford concerning an alleged plot to kill a Swedish newspaper cartoonist, Lars Vilks, over his images of the Prophet Muhammad in a Swedish newspaper that were deemed by some to be insulting to Muslims.
There were five arrests in Waterford, including one in Tramore. All were being held for questioning under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007 and we understand that they can be detained for seven days if suspected of being involved in a conspiracy to carry out a killing in another European country. According to Gardai, the arrested persons included three men and two women. They were living in the country legally and were registered here after seeking asylum. It is understood they are from Algeria, Croatia, Libya, Palestine and the United States.
It was stated by Gardai that they were being questioned in Waterford, Thomastown and Tramore Garda stations. The ages of the people held range from mid 20s to mid 40s and some may have been married and all may have been known to each other.
The FBI in America had alerted Irish authorities about the alleged conspiracy and a number of European police forces were also involved. After the publication of the cartoon, a web site in Iraq linked to al-Qaeda offered over $100,000 for the successful assassination for those responsible for the cartoon’s publication.
The Garda press office held a press briefing in Waterford on Tuesday on the matter. Under Irish law, the arrested people could be brought to trial in Ireland on the charge of conspiracy to kill a person in another European country. We understand that none were in full time employment and had a varied range of skills. The FBI, along with other US intelligence agencies, were the first alert the Irish to the problem. The investigation goes back a year with Waterford Gardai playing a leading role in a probe that involved 60 Gardai in total.