AP, September 15, 2007
The leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq has offered a bounty on the head of a Swedish cartoonist who recently satirized the Prophet Mohammed.
“We are calling for the assassination of cartoonist Lars Vilks who dared insult our Prophet, peace be upon him, and we announce a reward during this generous month of Ramadan of US$100,000 for the one who kills this criminal,” Abu Omar al-Baghdadi said in a statement posted Saturday to an Islamist webside.
That amount would be increased to $150,000 if Vilks was “slaughtered like a lamb,” Baghadi said.
He offered a further $50,000 for the killing of the editor of Nerikes Allehanda, the newspaper that published Vilks’ cartoon. That Aug. 18 cartoon showed Muhammaed with a dog’s body.
“We have a real problem here,” Vilks told The Associated Press by telephone. “We can only hope that Muslims in Europe and in the Western world choose to distance themselves from this and support the idea of freedom of expression.”
In his message, al-Baghdadi also threatened attacks against major Swedish companies if the “crusader state of Sweden” didn’t apologize.
“We know how to force you to retreat and apologize and if you don’t, wait for us to strike the economy of your giant companies including Ericsson, Scania, Volvo, Ikea, and Electrolux,” he said.
Baghdadi has never been photographed, and the United States considers him to be a fictitious character designed to give an Iraqi face to an organization otherwise dominated by non-Iraqis.
Sweden has been a generous nation in terms of accepting Iraqi refugees.