\"Cartoonist

Cartoonist Lars Vilks, target of al-Qaida assassination plot

Irish arrest Al-Qaida suspects in murder conspiracy

\"Cartoonist

Cartoonist Lars Vilks, target of al-Qaida assassination plot

Irish police have arrested seven Muslims living in Ireland for plotting to kill a Swedish cartoonist who drew a cartoon depicting prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog.

Lars Vilks has also depicted Jesus Christ as a pedophile.

The target was Swedish cartoonist Vilks, who had a bounty of $100,000 on his head from al-Qaida after the cartoon appeared. Al-Qaida also offered $50,000 extra if the cartoonist's throat was slit.

Four men and three women were arrested in Waterford and Cork. Irish police said the men and women were arrested "as part of an investigation into a conspiracy to commit a serious offense, namely, conspiracy to murder an individual."

The suspects are originally from Morocco and Yemen, but are all living legally as refugees in Ireland.

Irish police said they worked with counterparts in the United States and "a number of European countries."

Vilks  told CNN in 2007 he drew the cartoon of Mohammed with a dog's body in order to take a stand.

"It should be possible to insult all religions in a democratic way, " Vilks told CNN. "If you insult one, then you should insult the other ones."

Dogs are considered unclean by  Muslims.

Vilks said his drawing was "a way of expressing things. If you don't like it, don't look at it. And if you look at it, don't take it too seriously. No one actually loves the truth, but someone has to say it," he said.

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