Cops: Muhammad Cartoonist Fled to Panic Room to Escape Intruder With Ax

Suspect charged in Denmark with two counts of attempted murder.

ByABC News
January 2, 2010, 3:51 PM

LONDON, Jan. 2, 2010 — -- A Somali man with possible links to al Qaeda has been charged with attempted murder after breaking into the home of a Danish cartoonist whose drawings of the Prophet Mohammed sparked outrage among the Muslim community and triggered riots around the world.

The 28-year-old Somali man with a residence permit in Denmark, who is said to have close links with Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab and possibly al-Qaida militants in East Africa, broke into Kurt Westergaard's home in Aarhus just after 2200 local time, Danish Police told ABC News.

Armed with an ax and knife, the suspect entered the artist's home shouting threats of "blood" and "revenge," according to Westergaard, before he and his granddaughter, who was in the home on a sleepover, fled into a specifically created safe room and awaited police who arrived two minutes later.

"I took to the panic room when the attacker entered my house," Kurt Westergaard said in a statement released today. "I realised that I would not be able to match him. Then I alarmed the police."

Westergaard, 74, has been the target of several death threats since depicting a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb-shaped turban in 2005, igniting attacks on Danish embassies and outraging the Muslim world. He remains under police guard tonight at an undisclosed location.

In a telephone interview with ABC News, Katrina Ilsoe, a spokesperson for local police, said the Somali man, whose name cannot be released due to Danish privacy laws, was shot by officers at the scene after threatening them with an ax.

"He was shot once in the knee and once in the hand," Ilsoe said. "However, his life is not in danger."

Despite his injuries, the Somali man, accompanied by his lawyer, was wheeled into court on a stretcher at midday today to be arraigned. He was charged with two counts of attempted murder, one on Westergaard and the other on a police officer.

According to local officials, the suspect pled not guilty claiming he had no intention of harming Westergaard but that he just wanted to scare the cartoonist.