London, Sep 28 : Scotland Yard's counter-terrorist command has foiled an alleged plot by Islamic extremists to kill the publisher of a forthcoming novel featuring sexual encounters between the Prophet Muhammad and his child bride.
On Saturday, armed undercover officers arrested three men after a petrol bomb was pushed through the door of the north London home of the book's publisher, The Times reported.
The Metropolitan police said the target of the assassination plot, the Dutch publisher Martin Rynja, had not been injured.
Undercover police was following the suspected terror gang and the fire was quickly put out after the fire brigade smashed down the front door.
Security officials believe Rynja was targeted for assassination because his firm, Gibson Square, is preparing to publish a romantic novel about Aisha, child bride of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Jewel of Medina, by the first-time American author Sherry Jones, describes an imaginary sex scene between the prophet and his 14-year-old wife.
It was withdrawn from publication in America last month after its publisher there, Random House, said it feared a violent reaction by "a small radical segment" of Muslims. It said "credible and unrelated sources" had warned that the book could incite violence.
Random House reacted after Islamic scholars objected to its contents, saying it treated the wife of the Prophet as a sex object.
The foiled terrorist attack recalled the death threats and uproar 20 years ago following the publication of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, and the worldwide protests that followed the publication in a Danish newspaper in 2005 of cartoons deemed offensive to Islam, in which more than 100 people died.
Two of the suspects were arrested in the street outside Rynja's four-storey townhouse in Lonsdale Square, Islington, while the third was stopped by officers in an armed vehicle near Angel Tube station.
They were being questioned yesterday on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, a spokesman said.