A Norwegian court has found two men guilty of involvement in an alleged al-Qaeda plot to attack a Danish newspaper that carried a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.
Investigators say the three men, who were arrested in July 2010, were linked to a thwarted al-Qaeda plot against the New York subway system and a shopping mall Manchester, England, in 2009.
The Oslo court on Monday sentenced Mikael Davud, a Nowergian of Chinese origin who was accused of leading the plot, to seven years in prison and co-defendant Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak, an Iraqi Kurd, to three and a half years.
A third defendant, David Jakobsen, an Uzbek with Norwegian residency, was acquitted of terror charges. Jakobsen was convicted of a lesser explosives charge and sentenced to four months, which he has already served.
It was the first case with international links tried under Norway's anti-terrorism laws, which require proof of a conspiracy between two or more people. The case was also Norway's first high-profile terror investigation since July when a man killed 77 people in a bomb and shooting massacre.
The three men on Monday made some admissions but pleaded innocent to terror conspiracy charges and rejected any links to al-Qaeda.
Judge Oddmund Svarteberg said the court found that Davud, a Chinese Muslim, "planned the attack together with al-Qaeda."
Bujak was deeply involved in the preparations, but it could not be proved that he was aware of Davud's contacts with al-Qaeda, the judge said.
Prosecutors said the Norwegian cell first wanted to attack Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, whose 12 cartoons of Muhammad sparked furious protests in Muslim countries in 2006, and then changed plans to seek to murder one of the cartoonists instead.
Davud denied he took orders from al-Qaeda, saying he was planning a solo raid against the Chinese Embassy in Oslo. He said he wanted revenge for Beijing's oppression of Uighurs, a Muslim minority in western China.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|