Al Qaeda's Yemen affiliate has released a video claiming to have orchestrated and funded the attack which killed 12 people at the Paris office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last week.
In an 11-minute long video released today, Nasr al-Ansi, a top commander of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a virulent branch of the group active in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, offers his "congratulations" for last Wednesday's attack by Cherif and Said Kouachi. He claims that his organization "chose the target, laid out the plan, and financed the operation."
He appears to suggest, however, that the group was not behind the actions of Amedy Coulibaly, who shot a Paris policewoman on Thursday and killed hostages at a Jewish store on Friday as the Kouachi brothers stood off with security forces at a printworks outside the capital.
The video claim follows a statement to Associated Press sent to on Friday claiming responsibility for the massacre. AQAP was one of the organizations that had explicitly threatened the magazine over its publication of cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammed in the past, and the Kouachi brothers reportedly claimed during the attack and subsequent siege at the Dammartin printworks that they were "al-Qaeda in Yemen."
The video opens by saying it is "A Message Regarding the Blessed Battle of Paris."
Before al Ansi begins speaking, a picture of Osama bin Laden is shown, along with the text: "If there is no check on the freedom of your words, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our actions."
Al Ansi speaks with the group's black jihadist flag fluttering in the background, alternated with news footage from the attacks. The banner is also used by the Islamic State as well as other Islamic militant groups.
"Those dissolute kuffar (non believers) insulted the chosen Prophets of Allah," he says.
Al Ansi then shows a clip of the Paris unity rally. "The heads of kufr have… been shocked by the events. Look at how they gathered, rallied and supported each other; strengthening their weakness and dressing their wounds. These wounds have not healed, and they won't, be it Paris, New York, or Washington," he adds, as a clip plays of the Twin Towers being hit in the September 11 attacks.
The video also shows a panning shot of the leaders who attended the unity rally in Paris on Sunday, though German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been blurred out.
Al Ansi mentions French involvement in Mali and the Central African Republic, and says that the European country has "shared all of America's crimes."
"It is France that has committed crimes in Mali and the Islamic Maghreb. It is France that supports the annihilation of Muslims in Central Africa in the name of race cleansing," he says.
Displaying a picture of the Kouachi brothers, al Ansi hails them as "two heroes of Islam." He also praises Coulibaly for his attacks in the capital on Thursday and Friday.
However he did not claim responsibility for Coulibaly's actions, instead saying it was a "tawfeeq (ability or opportunity) from Allah" that the Kouachis' operation "coincided" with that of their "Mujahid brother."
Coulibaly, said by security services to be an associate of the Kouachis, claimed to be from the Islamic State and a video has since emerged of him pledging allegiance to the group's leader and self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Ten staff and two policemen were murdered during the attack on Charlie Hebdo. The first issue to come out since the massacre — released on Wednesday — depicts the Prophet Muhammed on the cover, holding a sign saying "Je suis Charlie," the slogan of solidarity with the victims which has been adopted around the world. Above the cartoon the words "All is forgiven" are written.
"We have warned you before about the consequences of these deeds that your government collude with under the context of 'freedom of speech' or 'freedom of ideas,'" al Ansi says. "The freedom that is always tamed except when spreading vile and waging war on Allah and his messengers and defaming the religion."
Al Ansi urges Muslim youth to rise up at this "new turning point in the history of confrontation," and closes the video by threatening more "tragedy and terror."
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