3 Muslims freed over alleged plot to kill Swedish artist, 4 more still being questioned

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Irish police free 3 in alleged artist murder plot

DUBLIN — Three Muslims arrested over an alleged plot to assassinate Swedish artist Lars Vilks have been freed without charge, but three other men and an American woman remain in custody, Irish police said Saturday.

Six men — three Algerians, a Libyan, a Palestinian and a Croatian — and the American woman, who is married to one of the Algerians, were arrested Tuesday in Ireland hours before U.S. authorities unveiled a terror indictment against a 46-year-old Philadelphia woman, Colleen LaRose.

LaRose — who billed herself as “Jihad Jane” in a 2008 YouTube video — is accused of plotting with others to kill Vilks because of his 2007 sketch depicting the head of the Muslim prophet Muhammad on a dog’s body. The drawing provoked al-Qaida in Iraq to offer a $100,000 bounty for the artist’s slaying.

Irish police say LaRose visited Ireland in September and spent about two weeks with the Algerian-American couple and other suspects. Investigators believe she began communicating last year with the Irish-based suspects in member-only Internet chat rooms.

In Leadville, Colorado, a woman identified the woman held as her daughter, 31-year-old Jamie Paulin-Ramirez. Christine Mott said she was informed of Paulin-Ramirez’s arrest by the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies.

Mott said her daughter disappeared last September and later told her family she went to Ireland with her 6-year-old son and married an Algerian whom she met online.

Denver FBI officials said Saturday they couldn’t confirm that the FBI had contacted Mott about the case. Irish police refused to confirm whether Paulin-Ramirez is the woman in custody, and have declined to release the identities of any of those arrested.

Vilks has received extra security in Sweden since January, when he received two telephone death threats from a Swedish-speaking Somali man. Those threats followed the Jan. 1 attempted attack on Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, whose 2005 cartoon of Muhammad wearing a bomb as a turban infuriated Muslims worldwide.

Three Swedish newspapers reprinted Vilks’ provocative drawing this week, citing its news value and the need to defend freedom of expression. On Thursday, the Swedish Muslim Federation, which has 60,000 members, denounced both the threats to kill Vilks and the newspapers’ reprinting of his work.

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