Terror charges brought against two Chicago men this week show the 74-year-old Dane remains a potential target for extremists, four years after he drew a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban.
"I am an old man so I am not so afraid anymore," Westergaard said Tuesday in an interview with Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that first published his drawing in September 2005 along with 11 other cartoons of Muhammad.
The drawings triggered an uproar a few months later when Danish and other Western embassies in several Muslim countries were torched by angry protesters who felt the cartoons had profoundly insulted Islam.
Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.
Westergaard has said it took him 45 minutes to make the drawing, considered by many Muslims to be the most offensive of the 12 cartoons. He has rejected calls to apologize to Muslims, saying poking fun at religious symbols is protected by Denmark's freedom of speech.
The drawing was meant to illustrate that extremists draw "spiritual ammunition from Islam," but not criticize the religion as a whole, he told broadcaster DR in February 2008 after Danish police uncovered an alleged plot to kill him.
"I realize that when issues of religion are involved emotions run high, and all religions have their symbols, which possess great importance," he said. "But when you live in a secularized society, it's clear that religion can't demand some sort of special status. ... "I have a problem with the fact that we have people from another culture who don't accept that we use religious elements in a drawing."
The cartoon uproar forced Westergaard underground, living under the protection of Denmark's intelligence agency, PET.
"For my wife and I, it's like a kind of dark depression has descended on us," he told DR.