Here I sit in the comfort of my home, surrounded by picture windows, taking time to write my thoughts about the last few days with Lars Vilks, Swedish artist—a man who has no such luxury. Vilks has been condemned for a pencil drawing he drew of Mohammed depicted as a dog in traffic. The work was pulled from a gallery exhibition in a small Swedish town for fear of Muslim reprisals. The incident and illustration was then published in the local newspapers. Now, an enterprising Jihadi can earn $100,000 for executing Vilks, and get $50,000 extra if a knife is used to do the job.
Two days before his arrival, I learned just how seriously the U.S. law enforcement community assessed the threat to Vilks when I received an urgent call from the hotel where the appearance was to take place. The manager told me there were twenty-five officers representing ten agencies, including FBI, Homeland Security and the Philadelphia Police Department's SWAT team— there to discuss how they were going to keep Vilks alive during his 40-hour stay. On a threat profile scale of one to ten, with ten being the highest threat, Vilks was a ten.