Al-Qaeda in Yemen claims Charlie Hebdo attack

Al-Qaeda in Yemen claims Charlie Hebdo attack
3 min read
14 January, 2015
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula says it planned and executed last week's attack in Paris, on direct orders of Ayman al-Zawarhiri.
AQAP said that they had planned the Charlie Hebdo attack.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has said it planned and executed the Paris attack against the offices of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Nasr al-Anisi, a commander of the Yemen-based group, said in a video released on Wednesday that the attack was ordered directly by al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, and was in response to the magazine's publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed.

"We, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the messenger of Allah," Anisi said in the video titled "A message regarding the blessed battle of Paris".

There had been reports that the perpetrators of the attack, Cherif and Said Kouachi, had trained in Yemen, and that they had vowed to be the ones who kill the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, one of whom was included in a hit-list published by AQAP's Inspire magazine in 2013.

Paris outrage hatched in deserts of Yemen's bandit country. Abubakr al-Shamahi reports.

Anisi said that the Kouachi brothers had "promised" and "fulfilled" their task.

"The one who chose the target, laid the plan and financed the operation is the leadership of the organisation," Anisi said. He said the US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a suspected US drone strike in September 2011, had been involved in the planning.

Anisi appeared to say that Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who killed a policewoman on the day of the Charlie Hebdo attacks and then killed four people in a Jewish supermaket on Friday, had not been sent by AQAP, and his actions "coincided" with that of the Kouachis. 

Coulibaly appeared in a video last week pledging allegiance to al-Qaeda's rivals, the Islamic State group.

New Charlie sold out

Meanwhile, the first print run of this week's issue of Charlie Hebdo sold out in a few hours, despite there having been 700,000 copies already printed, compared to the normal print run of 60,000. The magazine expects to print a total of five million copies in the coming week.

Many of those queuing came away empty-handed.

"This issue is symbolic, it represents their persistance, they didn't yield in the face of terror," said Catherine Boniface, a 58-year-old doctor, who missed out on a copy. 

The edition features a cartoon of Muhammed on the cover - but he has a tear in his eye, and is holding a "Je Suis Charlie" sign under the headline "All is forgiven".

Read more about AQAP, and how it has been affected by the rise of the Islamic State group.

Some Muslims have criticised Charlie Hebdo's decision to feature an image of Muhammed, which is considered blasphemous by most Muslims.

In Egypt, the state-sponsored Islamic authority, Dar al-Ifta, said the new issue would "result in a new wave of hatred in French and western society".

Al-Azhar calls on all Muslims to ignore this hateful frivolity.

- al-Azhar on the publication of a new cartoon by Charlie Hebdo.

There was also criticism from Iran and the Egyptian cleric Yusef al-Qaradawi, as well as IS, who said that publishing the cartoons was "an extremely stupid act".

However, the most prestigious authority in the Sunni Islamic world, al-Azhar, advised Muslims to ignore the publication.  "Al-Azhar calls on all Muslims to ignore this hateful frivolity," it said in a statement.

"The stature of the Prophet of mercy and humanitarianism is greater and more lofty than to be harmed by cartoons that are unrestrained by decency and civilised standards."

This was echoed by French Muslim leaders, who urged their subjects to "stay calm and avoid emotive reactions".

The French justice ministry said on Wednesday that 15 cases were opened over graffiti on mosques, and 10 for degrading Muslim places of worship "with weapons, fire or explosions".

They also said that 54 cases had been opened for "condoning terrorism" since the Paris attacks.