Al-Qaeda Apologizes for Killing Muslims
Al Qaeda, slowly realizing that its indiscriminate murder of civilians is counterproductive if the victims happen to be Muslims, apologized in a video for a hospital attack in Sanaa, Yemen that killed dozens of people on December 5. Qassim Al-Raimi, the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, released a video on Sunday in which he admitted that the attack was not meant to kill people in the hospital or the mosque that are part of the Yemeni Ministry of Defense compound. He asserted the cause was one al Qaeda fighter gone astray, saying, "We confess to this mistake and fault. We offer our apologies and condolences to the families of the victims. We did not want your lost ones; we did not target them on purpose. This is not of our religion or our morals." The apology video was released after surveillance video of the attack was released by the Yemeni government.
CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen commented, "Al Qaeda leaders seem to be waking up to the fact that if they position themselves as the defenders of Muslims, their large-scale killing of Muslim civilians needs to stop.”
One clip in the video of the attack showed anxious patients looking out of the hospital windows, then fleeing when they heard an explosion. Another segment showed patients and staff in a hallway as an al Qaeda member wlalks toward them, then throws a bomb in their direction.
Raimi protested, "We saw what the Yemeni channel broadcast: a gunman entering a hospital . ... We did not order him to do so, and we are not pleased with what he did. Moreover, it wronged us and pained us, because we do not fight in this manner." He allowed that al Qaeda would give funds to the families of the victims of the hospital attack. But he also stated that assaults on targets connected to American drones would continue, saying, "We have a long list of these places. In case they continue, we will continue. We will reach them, because we defend ourselves. We made a mistake. We accept responsibility and we are continuing with our Jihad."
In November, al Qaeda Syrian rebels apologized for beheading a fellow rebel fighter because they thought he was on the side of President Bashar al-Assad. In 2009, al Qaeda published a video that apologized to “unintended Muslim victims” of their murderous assaults.
Bergen recalled a statement by Osama bin Laden in 2007 in which he said Muslim victims killed by al Qaeda in Iraq "are not the intended targets." He added, "We know from the documents recovered at the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad by U.S. Navy SEALS in May 2011, al Qaeda's leaders were often writing to each other privately and also to groups they are associated with about the need to minimize civilian (Muslim) casualties and often wrote about the damage to the al Qaeda brand that killing civilians had achieved by al Qaeda operations in Iraq. But the straightforward public apology ... is a new development."