Reuters reports: Al Qaeda in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, saying it was ordered by the Islamist militant group’s leadership for insulting the Prophet Mohammad, according to a video posted on YouTube.
Gunmen killed a total of 17 people in three days of violence that began when they opened fire at Charlie Hebdo last week in revenge for publication of satirical images of the Prophet.
This was the first time that a group officially claimed responsibility for the attack, led by two brothers who had visited the poor Arabian peninsula country in 2011.
“As for the blessed Battle of Paris, we … claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the Messenger of God,” said Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, a leader of the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda (AQAP) in the recording.
Ansi, an AQAP ideologue, said the “one who chose the target, laid the plan and financed the operation is the leadership of the organisation”, without naming an individual.
He added without elaborating that the strike was carried out in “implementation” of the order of overall al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, who has called for strikes by Muslims in the West using any means they can find.
Ansi also gave credit for the operation to slain AQAP propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki, a preacher cited by one of the gunmen in remarks to French media as a financer of the attack.
It was not clear how Awlaki, killed by a U.S. drone in 2011, had a direct link to the Paris assault, but he inspired several militants in the United States and Britain to acts of violence. [Continue reading…]