Yemen’s al-Qaida branch on Wednesday confirmed it carried out last week’s deadly assault on a French satirical newspaper to avenge cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, as it called for unity among jihadi ranks and vowed more attacks on the West.
In an 11-minute video posted on the group’s Twitter account, Nasr al-Ansi, a top commander of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, said the attack on the office of the Charlie Hebdo weekly —in which two gunmen massacred 12 people — was in “revenge for the prophet.”
He warned of more “tragedies and terror” in the future, saying “you will look for peace and stability but you will not find it because of the deeds of those carrying out martyrdom operations and heroes of lone jihad.”
Al-Ansi said AQAP “chose the target, laid out the plan and financed the operation.” He said the radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in September 2011, had arranged the attack.
If confirmed, that would mean the Paris attack was years in the making. But Al-Ansi produced no evidence to support his claims, leaving lingering questions over the exact relationship between the attackers and the militant group’s leadership in Yemen.
An AQAP member said on Friday that the group was responsible, but the video contained the first official claim.
The statement emerged as Charlie Hebdo defiantly released a new issue with a caricature of the prophet on the cover, with copies selling out before dawn across Paris.
The assault on the magazine was the first successful operation by AQAP outside of Yemen, and came after a number of failed attacks on the U.S., which views the Yemeni affiliate as al-Qaida’s most dangerous franchise.
This story is compiled with information from The Associated Press.
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