Al Qaeda offers bounty on Swedish cartoonist
2007-09-16 0:00


Ed comment: Remeber this circus a while back? Take a look at the related links below the article for much more.

Al Qaeda in Iraq's leader has offered a bounty on the head of a Swedish cartoonist who recently satirized the Prophet Muhammad.

"We are calling for the assassination of cartoonist Lars Vilks who dared insult our Prophet, peace be upon him, and we announce a reward during this generous month of Ramadan of US$100,000 for the one who kills this criminal," Abu Omar al-Baghdadi said in a statement posted Saturday to an Islamist webside.

That amount would be increased to $150,000 if Vilks was "slaughtered like a lamb," Baghadi said.

He offered a further $50,000 for the killing of the editor of Nerikes Allehanda, the newspaper that published Vilks' cartoon. That Aug. 18 cartoon showed Muhammaed with a dog's body.

Ulf Johansson, the newspaper's editor, said he takes this threat "more seriously" than other ones he's received.

"This is more explicit. It's not every day somebody puts a price on your head," he said.

Vilks think this situation is out of control.

"We have a real problem here," Vilks told The Associated Press by telephone. "We can only hope that Muslims in Europe and in the Western world choose to distance themselves from this and support the idea of freedom of expression."

Reaction to the cartoon in the Muslim world has so far been restricted to a few scattered protest and some condemnation by Muslim countries.

In early 2006, a series of 12 cartoons on the Muhammad theme printed in a conservative Danish newspaper triggered mass protests.

Sweden's Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt spoke last week with ambassadors from 22 Muslim nations about the sketch. He expressed regret over any hurt the cartoon may have caused, but that under Swedish law, politicians cannot punish the press.

In his message, al-Baghdadi also threatened attacks against major Swedish companies if the "crusader state of Sweden" didn't apologize.

"We know how to force you to retreat and apologize and if you don't, wait for us to strike the economy of your giant companies including Ericsson, Scania, Volvo, Ikea, and Electrolux," he said.

Baghdadi has never been photographed, and the United States considers him to be a fictitious character designed to give an Iraqi face to an organization otherwise dominated by non-Iraqis.

A top al Qaeda member has revealed under interrogation that an actor reads Baghdadi's speeches, the U.S. has said.

Al Qaeda in Iraq isn't known to have carried out operations in Europe, although it has carried out attacks in Jordan and has links to militants in Lebanon.

Sweden has been a generous nation in terms of accepting Iraqi refugees.

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