Copenhagen, June 4 (IANS) Four men were Monday sent to jail by a court in Denmark after they were found guilty of plotting a Mumbai-style terror attack on a Copenhagen-based newspaper that published cartoons of Prophet Mohammed, CNN reported.
The court in Glostrup, just outside Copenhagen, ruled there was no doubt about their plan to attack the Jyllands Posten newspaper and sentenced each of the men to 12 years in prison.
The four men -- 46-year-old Tunisian citizen Mounir Dhahri; Munir Awad, 31, of Lebanese descent, 39-year-old Sahbi Zalouti of Tunisian descent and Omar Aboelazm, 32, of Egyptian descent -- were charged with plotting to kill a large number of people at the newspaper. They have denied the charges.
Counter-terrorism officials in the US and Scandinavia believe the plot was directed by Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan.
Authorities said the four suspects planned a gun attack on the newspaper, to be followed by the "execution" of hostages.
The plan was foiled by a joint operation of Swedish and Danish security services.
The suspects were tracked down in December 2010 as they drove from Sweden to Denmark. They had a submachine gun, a silencer, and several dozen 9 mm submachine gun cartridges.
Western security services believe the plot was part of a broader Al Qaeda conspiracy, authorized by Osama bin Laden, to strike Europe with operations like the Mumbai attack in November 2008, in which at least 166 people were killed.
Dhahri, Awad and Zalouti had all travelled to Pakistan in 2010.
Awad and Zalouti were arrested by Pakistani authorities in August 2010 before they could reach North Waziristan and were subsequently deported, sources told CNN.
The court heard that Zalouti told Swedish police he wired money from Sweden to Dhahri in Bannu town in Pakistan.
Dhahri evaded capture in Pakistan, and is believed to have received training there prior to returning to Europe.
A Swedish counterterrorism source told CNN that investigations revealed connections between the plotters and a network linked to Ilyas Kashmiri, a Pakistani Al Qaeda operative who Western intelligence believe orchestrated Al Qaeda's plans to hit Europe with "Mumbai-style" attacks.
Dhahri and Awad had a connection to Farid, a Stockholm-based militant of Moroccan descent, suspected of acting as facilitator for Kashmiri's terrorist network.
Also involved with Kashmiri's network was David Headley, an American of Pakistani descent who pleaded guilty to helping plot the Mumbai attacks.
According to an interview of Headley by India's National Investigation Agency that was obtained by CNN, Headley met Farid in 2009 in relation to a plot Headley himself was planning against the Jyllands Posten newspaper.