Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen has claimed responsibility for the “blessed battle of Paris”, hailing the terrorists who killed 17 people as “heroes” who “blew off the dust of disgrace”.
In a video message released on Wednesday, al-Qaeda threatens to attack London and describes the bloodshed in France as a “turning point in the history of confrontation”.
Said and Cherif Kouachi, the brothers who killed 12 people in and around the office of Charlie Hebdo, spent several months in Yemen in 2010 – 11.
During this period, they are believed to have received military training from “al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” (AQAP), the branch of the terrorist network based in the country. As they carried out the attack last Wednesday, the Kouachi brothers told witnesses that they were acting on behalf of “al-Qaeda in Yemen”.
The video message from Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, a senior figure in AQAP, appears to confirm this. In the statement, Ansi denounces the “dissolute kuffar” [a derogatory term for unbelievers] who “insulted the chosen Prophets of Allah” and caused Muslims to “awake and roar out of rage”.
The “heroes” were then “assigned” to attack the Charlie Hebdo office in revenge. “Congratulations to you, o ummah of Islam, for this vengeance that has soothed our chests,” adds the AQAP leader. “Congratulations to you for these brave men who blew off the dust of disgrace and lit the torch of glory in the darkness of defeat and agony.”
Ansi promises that Paris will never be allowed to recover from its ordeal and names AQAP’s targets among Western cities. “Those wounds have not healed and they won’t – be it in Paris, New York or Washington, or in London or Spain,” he adds.
The AQAP figurehead describes a “new turning point in the history of confrontation” and urges Muslims everywhere to turn upon the West.
But Ansi also alludes to the spontaneous display of national unity in France last Sunday, when 3.7 million people joined demonstrations across the country. “Let us not let the disbelievers be more united in their disbelief and insulting the prophets than us in supporting our religion and Prophet,” he says.
Ansi refrains from claiming responsibility for the attack on the kosher supermarket which caused the deaths of four Jewish Parisians. Instead, he gives the impression that this incident was a fortuitous coincidence. But Ansi is careful to hail the perpetrator, Amedy Coulibaly, as a “brother” and a “martyr”. Coulibaly himself said that he was acting on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), a rival terrorist network.
Ansi is anxious to make crystal clear that AQAP organised the assault on Charlie Hebdo, saying that his group “chose the target, laid the plan and financed the operation”.
He concludes with a call to arms, saying: “Rise up o Muslim youth in support of your prophet. Be generous with your lives like your predecessors did. Take vengeance for the Muslim blood that is spilled, the honours that are defiled.”