The death in an accident of Swedish artist Lars Vilks may be no accident after all. Sources have told CNN-News18 that the cartoonist, who drew a worldwide controversy in 2007 with his irreverent sketch of Prophet Muhammad, may have been killed by the jihadist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that was also behind the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008. Terror mastermind Sajid Mir may have orchestrated the crash, they said. Mir was put on their most-wanted list by both India and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) following the Mumbai attacks. He is also believed to be the brains behind the proposed attack, dubbed the Micky Mouse Project, on a newspaper in Denmark that published cartoons on the Prophet in 2005.
Vilks, 75, was reportedly travelling in a civilian police vehicle that collided with a truck near the town of Markaryd in southern Sweden. Two of his bodyguards were also killed in the crash. The artist was under police protection as he had received death threats over the cartoon. Muslims regard any visual representation of the Prophet as blasphemous.
Vilks had said that the cartoon was not intended to provoke Muslims, but to challenge political correctness in the art world.
His killing appears to be the handiwork of Sajid Mir with the help of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and shows the LeT’s growing global footprints, said the sources.
In 2007, a court in France convicted French national Willie Brigitte for planning terrorist attacks in Australia in 2003 with Mir.
Mir had started scouting for assets that could be used abroad in a bid to spread the LeT’s tentacles across the globe, said the sources. Brigitte from France, David Headley from the United States and Faheem Lodhi from Australia were his discoveries.
Brigitte, in his interrogation, had described Mir as “Uncle Bill” who was fluent in Arabic, Urdu and English.
The US Department of States has offered a reward of USD 5 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Sajid Mir.
Pakistan wants to come out of the inter-governmental body Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s grey list for not doing enough against terrorism but this is stopped because the agency wants to know about terror masterminds Sajid Mir, Maulana Masood Azhar and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. Pakistan has shared false reports and fabricated news about the death of Mir.