Danes pinch five in plot to kill Mohammed cartoonist

Think of it as a warm-up for March Madness.

Danish police conducted a series of pre-dawn raids Tuesday morning and arrested several individuals suspected of planning to murder one of the 12 cartoonists whose unflattering depictions of the Prophet Muhammad led to worldwide protests in 2006.

Those arrested include several “people with a Muslim background” with both Danish and foreign citizenship, according to the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which originally published the caricatures in the autumn of 2005. The paper reports that cartoonist Kurt Westergaard was the target of the plot and that Danish authorities have been investigating the threat for some time…

The raids and arrests were conducted in Aarhus, located in western Denmark. The Associated Press quotes PET, the police intelligence agency, as saying that the raids were meant “to prevent a terror-related murder” and to do so “at an early phase to stop the planning and the carrying out of murder.” According to Danish broadcaster DR, police took five people into custody.

Westergaard drew the image of Mohammed with the bomb in his turban, making him the odds-on favorite in the Theo Van Gogh sweepstakes. Fun fact: The AP has information on only three of the suspects, but says one of them will be released — and the other two merely deported back to Tunisia.