COPENHAGEN, Denmark – COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A one-legged Chechen boxer injured in an explosion at a Copenhagen hotel was preparing a letter bomb, likely intended for a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, police said Friday.
The device went off as the man was assembling it in a hotel bathroom on Sept. 10, said Svend Foldager, a police spokesman. The suspect received cuts to his face and no one else was injured.
"We're dealing with a letter bomb. The bomb was completed. Apparently it was of a low-technology type, with a highly explosive substance inside," Foldager told reporters in Copenhagen. "It was filled with small steel pellets to cause injuries."
He said the device contained triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, which served as a detonator for the bombs used by terrorists in the 2005 London bombings that killed 52 people.
"We consider it likely that it was Jyllands-Posten in Aarhus that was the target," Foldager said, referring to the Danish daily whose 12 cartoons of Muhammad sparked fiery riots in Muslim countries in 2006. Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry. The daily is headquartered in Aarhus, in western Denmark.
Foldager said the letter bomb would have had the strength of a small hand grenade. "It was capable of injuring a lot of people, depending on where it exploded," he said.
The suspect was arrested in a park near the hotel shortly after the small blast. Police said he refused to reveal his identity, and had even scratched the serial number off his prosthetic right leg, but investigators believe he is a Chechen-born amateur boxer living in Belgium.
They were working with Belgian police to confirm his identity.
The suspect is being held on preliminary charges of preparing an explosion with the intent to cause injuries, a crime that is punishable by up to life in prison. His lawyer did not return calls seeking comment Friday.
Police have said they believe he was operating alone and not as part of a wider network.
Denmark's intelligence service says the Scandinavian country remains in the cross-hairs of Islamic terrorists because of Jyllands-Posten's cartoons, which were reprinted by a range of Western papers, igniting a tense debate about the freedom of speech and religious sensitivities.
On June 2, 2008, a car bomb killed six people outside the Danish Embassy in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. In Chicago, terrorism charges were brought last year against two men accused of planning an attack against Jyllands-Posten employees.
The newspaper's headquarters is now protected by a metal fence and round-the-clock security guards. All mail is scanned before being opened.
"You never get used to terror but we have managed to get through threats before and we will manage again this time," Lars Munch, managing director of the media group that owns Jyllands-Posten, said in a statement Friday.