AQAP Claims Responsibility for Paris Terror Attack
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has claimed responsibility for last week’s massacre of Charlie Hebdo staff members and police in Paris, France.
Reuters reports AQAP said the terrorist attack was ordered in retaliation for the satirical magazine’s cartoons insulting the Islamic ‘prophet’ Mohammed.
A total of 17 people were killed in three days of terrorist violence that rocked France to its core. The attacks were led by two brothers, Cherif and Said Kouachi, who had traveled to Yemen for weapons and other training in 2011.
“As for the blessed Battle of Paris, we … claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the Messenger of God,” said AQAP commander Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi in a video posted on YouTube and social media sites.
He added that al-Qaeda global leader Ayman al-Zawahiri gave the overall order for the attack as part of the terrorist group’s grand strategy of attacking and killing Westerners, especially those from countries participating in US-led wars in Muslim nations, wherever they are found.
Al-Ansi also credited Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born AQAP propagandist who was killed in a US drone strike in 2011. Al-Awlaki’s innocent 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, also an American, was later killed in a separate airstrike.
AQAP also mocked last weekend’s solidarity rallies in Paris and throughout France as “weakness.”
“Look at how they gathered, rallied and supported each other; strengthening their weakness and dressing their wounds,” said al-Ansi.
US counterterrorism officials have long warned of the dangers of AQAP, which it has targeted with drone strikes, bombings and Special Forces attacks. But the group remains strong, as many Yemenis, spurred on by a combination of extreme poverty, radical Islamist indoctrination and US and Western policies and actions which kill tens of thousands of Muslims—including many innocent Yemenis—join the terrorist organization.
Few American officials recognize the role their government and military play in stoking Islamist terrorism, but Nabeel Khoury, a former deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, raised eyebrows and ire when he claimed in 2013 that every drone strike “generates roughly 40-60 new enemies for every AQAP operative killed.”
As France buried and mourned its dead, the nation’s parliament voted 488-1 to extend and expand its participation in the US-led war against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq. Only one French lawmaker, Jean-Pierre Gorges of the center-right UMP party, voted against the measure, explaining that more war will only provoke more extremist violence.