One Dead at Danish Free Speech Event in Assassination Attempt on Swedish Artist

Policemen secure the area around a buildCSP, by Kyle Shideler, Feb. 14, 2015:

Police in Copenhagen are currently searching for two gunmen who opened fire with automatic weapons on a cafe in the Danish capital, killing one and wounding several including police. At the time of the event, Lars Vilks, a Swedish artist best known for his cartoon of Mohammad as a “roundabout dog” (an iconic Swedish image), was in attendance.

larsvilks-226x300Vilks, who police believe was the target of the attack, has previously survived prior plots on his life including an attempted arson, and a plot involving American Islamic convert Collen Rose (aka “Jihad Jane”). The French ambassador to Denmark was also in attendance, and security was tight with multiple armed policeman providing security.

The topic of the presentation was on free speech, and the BBC noted the principal question focused on, “whether artists could “dare” to be blasphemous in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks by Islamist gunmen in Paris last month.”

With suspects not yet in custody (as of this writing), it’s too early to speculate whether the attackers will be linked to a jihadist organization such as Islamic State or Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (as the Charlie Hebdo attackers were), or if they will turn out to be “Known Wolves“, already on the radar screens of European intelligence.

But it is worth noting that the recent publication of the Islamic State’s “Dabiq” magazine Issue 7 focused extensively on the Charlie Hebdo attack and issued numerous and specific threats against supposed blasphemers, including U.S. citizens, and U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials should take seriously threats made against Americans for having violated sharia “blasphemy” laws. Like the Charlie Hebdo attack, today’s incident appears to be less about terrorism, than sharia enforcement. As a result, the response must include not only the full force of Western law enforcement capability targeting the individual terrorists, and their networks, but also a reiteration, by politicians and society more generally, of full throat-ed support for Western principles of free speech and a refusal to submit to the imposition of blasphemy laws, whether through violence, through international forums such as the Istanbul Process, or out of self-censorship.

Update: