NAIROBI, Kenya – Kenyan authorities had arrested a man now charged with attempting to kill a Danish cartoonist after he arrived ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's visit earlier this year, a police official said Monday.
Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe identified the man as Mohammed Muhideen Gelle, and said he was on a terror watch list. His trip to Kenya ahead of Clinton's August visit had raised red flags and he also was seen associating with other suspects on the Kenyan terror watch list, Kiraithe said.
The man cannot be identified in Denmark due to a Danish court ban. But when asked whether Kenyan authorities had confirmed that the suspect in Denmark was the same man previously in Kenyan custody, Kiraithe replied: "Yes, he's the one."
Kiraithe said the suspect was held on immigration charges that were later dropped. He was arrested July 30 and released Aug. 12.
The Somali man, who has a residence permit in Denmark, faces preliminary charges of attempting to kill cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.
Westergaard — one of 12 Danish artists whose cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad outraged Muslims in 2006 — escaped the attack by fleeing to a specially made safe room and alerting police. Police shot the Somali man in the hand and knee.
Westergaard's cartoon of Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban was viewed as the most provocative of the 12, and he has been the target of several death threats since then. He has been under round-the-clock police protection since February 2008.
Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.