Al-Qaeda operative Ali Charaf Damache was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment by a U.S. court for his role in recruiting other radicals in a plot to assassinate Swedish artist Lars Vilks.
The 53-year-old radical Islamist was found guilty after a drawn-out process that spanned nearly a decade for attempting to recruit like-minded jihadists from the United States and Europe to kill Vilks, who became famous as one of the artists involved in the 2007 Mohammed cartoons controversy, Swedish broadcaster SVT reports.
The plot to kill the Swedish artist began in 2009 and saw three U.S. citizens arrested including a 46-year-old from Philadelphia named Colleen LaRose who went by the nickname “Jihadi Jane”.
Damache, who was born in Algeria and became a naturalised citizen of Ireland, is said to have recruited and worked with Jihadi Jane and other conspirators in the failed plot to kill Vilks.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 31, 2015
Despite his initial pleas of innocence, Damache later pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 15 years in U.S. prison.
William Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York office, commented on the case saying: “Damache knowingly and willingly conspired with others to wage a violent jihad overseas, actively supporting the very ideals that allow terrorism to thrive worldwide.”
“For as long as there are those who commit to carrying out these intolerable acts, the FBI will resolutely continue to address counterterrorism as our number one priority,” he added.
While the assassination plot failed, Mr Vilks has been the subject of attacks by supporters of radical Islam in the past.
In 2015, during a free-speech conference in Copenhagen, Vilks’s event was attacked when 22-year-old Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein opened fire on the cafe staging the event murdering a civilian and wounding several police officers.
Following the attack, Vilks said: “I’m not going to let this attack scare me. I’m going to continue just like I always have.”