01/Aug/2014 - Last News Update: 05:47

Somali axeman 'was held in Kenya'

Category: World

Published: 4th Jan 2010 10:55:20

The Somali man accused of trying to kill the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard was recently held by Kenyan police for seven weeks, reports say.

The 28-year-old was charged on Saturday with trying to kill Mr Westergaard, whose 2005 drawing of the Prophet Muhammad sparked global protests.

He was arrested in Kenya in August for travelling without documents, but on suspicion of terrorist affiliations.

The arrest came days before the arrival in Kenya of the US secretary of state.

"He was under suspicion of having connections to terrorists," an intelligence source was quoted as saying by the Danish newspaper Politiken.

The Danish Security and Intelligence Service has previously said that the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had close links to the radical al-Shabab organisation - which has hailed last Friday's attack - as well as to al-Qaeda leaders in East Africa.

According to Politiken, the man was arrested five days before the arrival in Nairobi of Hillary Clinton - at which time there were fears of a possible terrorist attack - but that suspicions regarding the 28-year-old had not been connected to her visit.

Deported from Kenya

The Danish media report followed similar ones in Kenyan newspapers directly linking the suspect to a planned attack on Mrs Clinton.

"The 28-year-old... was arrested over a planned attack on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to Africa," said the Nairobi Standard.

It said the man was "among five other people arrested in Nairobi in a police swoop working on intelligence that some criminals planned to attack installations".

Kenyan intelligence sources were quoted as saying the man was released due to a lack of evidence against him.

In Kenya, Denmark's Ambassador Bo Jensen has declined to comment on Politiken's information that the Kenya suspect is the same man remanded in custody in the Westergaard case.

But he said it was highly unusual to be detained in prison for seven weeks as a result of problems with a passport.

"Danes seldom get into such major problems because they have lost their passport," said Mr Jensen, adding that the embassy had been in contact with the man three days after he was detained.

He said that although the embassy had offered to provide new travel documents, Kenyan authorities said they found it strange he had no passport and wanted to investigate further.

The man was eventually released and put on a plane for Denmark with temporary travel documents.

Mr Jensen said the Danish embassy had asked for information on whether any Danes were involved in alleged plots targeting Mrs Clinton, but had received no answers.

Panic room

The Somali man has been charged with attempting to kill the Danish cartoonist and a police officer after forcing entry into Mr Westergaard's home near Denmark's second city of Aarhus on Friday night.

The 74-year-old cartoonist - whose 2005 cartoon in Jyllands-Posten depicted the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban - rushed into a fortified room with his five-year-old grand-daughter and pressed a panic button to alarm police.

Armed with an axe and a knife, the alleged attacker is accused of attempting to break into the fortified room, before running out of the house when he heard police vehicles arriving minutes later.

Police shot the suspect in the arm and leg when he threw his axe at a police officer, officials say.

On Saturday, the man - who was rolled into court for a remand hearing on a stretcher with his arm in bandages and leg in a splint - denied all charges against him, although he admitted to having been in the area.

The judge remanded him in custody for four weeks as police conclude their inquiries.

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BBC News, 2010. Somali axeman 'was held in Kenya' [Online] (Updated 4th Jan 2010)
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