Al Qaeda In Yemen Claims Responsibility For Charlie Hebdo Attack

File photo of a policeman standing guard outside the French satirical weekly "Charlie Hebdo" in ParisAl 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 Prophet Muhammad.

Nasr al-Ansi, a top commander of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP as the branch is known, appeared in an 11-minute video posted on YouTube on Wednesday, saying that the massacre at Charlie Hebdo was in “vengeance for the prophet”.

“As for the blessed Battle of Paris, we, the Organisation of al Qaeda al Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula, 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.

He added 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.

AQAP was formed in January 2009 as a merger of the Yemeni and Saudi branches of Al-Qaeda. Washington regards it as the network’s most dangerous branch and has carried out a sustained drone war against its leaders.

“The leadership of (AQAP) was the party that chose the target and plotted and financed the plan… It was following orders by our general chief Ayman al-Zawahiri,” Ansi said.

“The heroes were chosen and they answered the call,” he said

It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the recording, which carried the logo of the al Qaeda’s media group al-Malahem.

The first edition of Charlie Hebdo published after last week’s attacks sold out within minutes at newspaper kiosks around France on Wednesday, with people queuing up to buy copies to support the satirical weekly.

The new issue features another cartoon of Prophet Muhammad on its cover, with tears in his eyes, holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign under the headline “All is forgiven”.

AQAP has a record of launching attacks far from its base in Yemen, including a bid to blow up a US airliner over Michigan on Christmas Day in 2009.

The group recently called for its supporters to carry out attacks in France, which is part of a US-led coalition conducting air strikes against fighters from the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Charlie Hebdo First Cover Since Terror Attack Shows Prophet Muhammad

charlie-hebdoThe front cover of Wednesday’s edition of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the first since last week’s attack on its Paris offices that left 12 people dead, is a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad.

The cover shows the prophet shedding a tear and holding up a sign reading “Je suis Charlie” in sympathy with the dead journalists. The headline says “All is forgiven”.

Richard Malka was among the first to call for the magazine to continue functioning after nine of its contributors, including famed cartoonists Cabu and Wolinski and its publishing director, Charb, were gunned down last Wednesday by Chérif and Saïd Kouachi

When asked whether that meant more cartoons of Mohammed, which have been a regular feature in the magazine until last Wednesday’s attack, he replied: “Naturally.”

“We will not give in otherwise all this won’t have meant anything,” he told France Info radio on Monday, which broadcast from the magazine’s heavily guarded temporary offices at Libération newspaper.

“Humour without self-deprecation isn’t humour. We mock ourselves, politicians, religions, it’s a state of mind you need to have.”

“The Charlie state of mind is the right to blaspheme,” he went on.

The edition will appear on Wednesday in 16 languages, including Arabic, and will be sold in 25 countries.

Liberation published the Charlie Hebdo cover online late on Monday night, showing a man in a white turban holding a sign reading “Je suis Charlie.”

Charlie Hebdo’s past caricatures of the prophet appear to have prompted last week’s attacks, which left a total of 17 people dead.

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, told the Today programme that Charlie Hebdo had no choice but to print the cover it had.

“You cannot have a march through the streets of Paris attended by 46 world leaders, 4 million people, climaxing with a shout of ‘We are not afraid’ and then not print the central object of contention,” he said. “Of course they are right to do that and I am afraid it is absolutely vital now that everybody stands up and defends their right to publish. You may not agree with what they have done, you may be offended by what they have done, but you should defend their right to publish it.”

Thousands of people showed their solidarity waving flags of France as well as several other countries, throughout the march which kicked off at central Place de la Republique.

Meanwhile, the partner of one of the slain attackers behind the three-day killing spree in Paris crossed into Syria last week, according to the Turkish foreign minister.

Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, had crossed into Syria on January 8, the same day that her partner Coulibaly is suspected of killing a policewoman outside Paris on the second day of the attacks.