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Jury convicts Danish cartoonist's attacker

By the CNN Wire
Westergaard received numerous death threats since his controversial drawing of the prophet Mohammed was published in 2005.
Westergaard received numerous death threats since his controversial drawing of the prophet Mohammed was published in 2005.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A Somali man is convicted of attacking cartoonist Kurt Westergaard
  • Geele apparently tried to break into the man's home
  • Prosecutors are seeking 12 years imprisonment for attacker
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(CNN) -- A 29-year-old Somali man was found guilty Thursday of attacking a Danish political cartoonist known for his drawing of the Muslim prophet Mohammed with a turban shaped as a bomb, authorities said.

In a unanimous verdict, Mohamed Geele was found guilty of attempted terrorism, attempted manslaughter and attacking a police officer with a knife and an ax, said Danish Prosecutor Lene Lemt.

Geele was accused of trying to break into the home of cartoonist Kurt Westergaard on January 1, 2010. He was shot in the right leg and left hand by an officer during the incident and hospitalized for his wounds.

At the time, Danish intelligence officials had linked him to an East African Islamist militia allied with al Qaeda.

Prosecutors are seeking 12 years in prison for Geele, who is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday.

Al-Shabaab, the militant organization with alleged ties to Geele, is waging a bloody battle against Somalia's transitional government and is currently on a U.S. government list of terrorist organizations.

At a January 2010 news conference in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage said, "We are very happy with the Somali national who attacked the house of the Danish cartoonist who previously insulted our prophet Mohammed. This is an honor for the Somali people. We are telling that we are glad that anyone who insults Islam should be attacked wherever they are."

Police had no indication that an attack was being planned on Westergaard, a police official said, though the intelligence service said the suspect had been under surveillance because of his alleged terrorist links.

Police said the suspect managed to crack the glass front door of Westergaard's home. A home alarm alerted police to the scene, and they were attacked by the suspect, authorities said.

Westergaard, who was home with his 5-year-old granddaughter at the time of the break-in, hid in a "panic room" when he realized what was happening, authorities said. Westergaard is ordinarily accompanied by bodyguards when he leaves his home, but nobody was on guard at the house that Friday, the Security and Intelligence Service told CNN.

The cartoonist has said he wanted his controversial drawing to show that some people exploited the prophet to legitimize terrorism. However, many in the Muslim world interpreted the drawing as depicting their prophet as a terrorist.

Over the years, Danish authorities have arrested other suspects who allegedly plotted against Westergaard's life.

CNN's Alexander Felton contributed to this report.

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