Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten has found itself on the recieving end of some violent threats following the publication of some cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which they called for after a a writer complained that nobody dared illustrate his book about Muhammad.

Twelve illustrators heeded the newspapers call, and sent in cartoons of the prophet, which were published in the newspaper earlier this month.

But some Muslims werent happy:

Death threats have forced daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten to hire security guards to protect its employees, after printing twelve cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed.

The same day as the newspaper published the cartoons, it received a threatening telephone call against one of the twelve illustrators, as the caller said. Shortly afterwards, police arrested a 17-year-old, who admitted to phoning in the threat.

Since then, journalists and editors alike have received threats by email and the telephone. The newspaper told its staff to remain alert, but then decided to hire security guards to protect its Copenhagen office.

Muslim organisations have demanded an apology but the newspapers editor-in-chief, Carsten Juste, has - quite rightly - rejected the idea, pointing out that the cartoons had been a journalistic project aimed at finding out how many cartoonists would refrain from drawing the prophet out of fear.

We live in a democracy, he said. Thats why we can use all the journalistic methods we want to. Satire is accepted in this country, and you can make caricatures. Religion shouldnt set any barriers on that sort of expression. This doesnt mean that we wish to insult any Muslims.

And then someone decided to turn things up a notch:

Bombs exploding over pictures of Danish daily Jyllands-Posten and blood flowing over the national flag and a map of Denmark are among the images circulating on the internet after the newspaper printed twelve cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed last month.

Daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende reported that the internet collages, posted in the name of an unknown organisation calling itself The Glory Brigades in Northern Europe, showed pictures of various tourist attractions in Denmark and stated that The Mujahedeen have numerous targets in Denmark - very soon you all will regret this, amongst other things.

Another picture showed soldiers, armed with bombs, over a map of Denmark, with blood spattered over parts of the country.

The front page of Jyllands-Posten featured prominently on many of the four collages. The newspaper has been criticised by Muslims for printing the cartoons, and was forced to hire security guards after receiving hate mail and death threats over the telephone.

It may turn out that these threats are nothing more than some teenager with a copy of Photoshop - and I hope they do - but, as terrorism researcher Anja Dalgaard-Nielsen from the Danish Institute of International Studies warns, its not an assumption that we can safely make:

We know that the internet is used both for propaganda and for actual terrorism instructions. It makes it more difficult for intelligence agencies to identify potential terrorists, because the internet reduces their need for physically passing through countrys borders in the recruitment and training process, she said.

Søren Hove, another terrorism researcher, points out that although the threats are anonymous and less florid with Koran quotes than earlier Islamist rantings, the message displayed in the collages was so threatening that it should be investigated by the police.

Update: Thanks to MediaWatchWatch for finding the cartoons online.