PARIS, Jan. 14 (UPI) — Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula released a video Wednesday claiming responsibility for the deadly attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The commander of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch, Nasr Ibn Ali al-Ansi, appears in the video praising the attackers, Said and Cherif Kouachi.
“When the heroes were assigned, they accepted. They promised and fulfilled,” al-Ansi said.
The Kouachi brothers’ assault on the magazine’s Paris office on Jan. 7 left 12 dead and led to a massive manhunt that ended with both gunmen dying in a police standoff two days later at a printworks building.
According to the video, American-born AQAP leader Anwar al-Awlaki — who died in 2011 — helped plan the attack, indicating it had been years in the making.
AQAP, al-Ansi said, directed, planned and financed the attack in response to Charlie Hebdo’s repeated publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. Senior al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri also allegedly played a role in advising the attack.
Both the video and an earlier statement released following the attack in which AQAP claimed responsibility quote deceased al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s warning against publishing images of the Prophet: “If there is no check on the freedom of your words, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our actions.”
The deadly actions taken a week ago were not only directed at Charlie Hebdo, but also at France. “It is France that has shared all of America’s crimes,” al-Ansi said in the video statement. “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.”
Despite the deadly terror attack, Charlie Hebdo showed no sign of slowing the presses. On Wednesday, the satirical magazine printed its latest edition, depicting the Prophet Mohammed crying with the cover: “All is forgiven.”