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Al Qaeda in Yemen claims Charlie Hebdo attack

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Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility Wednesday for last week’s attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices, saying it was in “vengeance” for the weekly’s publication of Prophet Mohammed cartoons.

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In a video statement released exactly a week after gunmen attacked Charlie Hebdo’s Paris office, killing 12 people, a top AQAP commander said it was in retaliation for insulting the Prophet Mohammed.

"As for the blessed Battle of Paris, we, the Organisation of al Qaeda al Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula, claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the Messenger of God," said Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, a senior AQAP leader.

“The leadership of the organisation,” said Ansi, " chose the target, laid the plan and financed the operation,” without naming an individual.

He added, without elaborating, that the strike was an "implementation" of al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri’s call on Muslims to target the West using any means they can find.

The group’s Yemeni branch “chose the target, laid out the plan and financed the operation,'' said Ansi and warned there would be more “tragedies and terror.''

Ansi is considered the main ideologue for AQAP, which is led by Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the second-most senior leader, after Zawahiri, in the network’s global hierarchy.

The US State Department has said that it believes the recording, which carried the logo of the al Qaeda's media group al-Malahem, is authentic, but added that officials are still determining whether the claim of responsibility is true.

Gunmen killed 17 people in a three-day terror spree in and around Paris last week, which began with an attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.

‘I was sent by al Qaeda in Yemen’

Reports that al Qaeda’s most dangerous branch was responsible for the January 7 attack emerged days later, when Cherif Kouachi, one of the two Charlie Hebdo attackers, told French TV station BFM: “I was sent by al Qaeda in Yemen, it was Sheikh Anwar Awlaki who financed me,” he said, referring to the US-born jihadist preacher who was killed in a September 2011 US drone strike in Yemen.

Kouachi's claim was made in a phone call to BFMTV during a siege Friday in Dammartin-en-Goele, a town northeast of Paris.

Cherif Kouachi and his elder brother, Said, were killed in Friday’s siege.

In a statement sent to the AP the next day, AQAP claimed responsibility for the attack and said the group did not claim the attack earlier because it did not want to jeopardize the assailants’ security.

The latest video statement represents the first time a senior AQAP leader has released a detailed statement on the attack.

A third gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, killed a policewoman on Thursday and died the next day during a standoff in a kosher supermarket that killed four Jewish hostages.

In a phone call to BFMTV during the kosher supermarket siege, Coulibaly said he had coordinated his actions with the Kouachi brothers. But he claimed to be acting on behalf of the Islamic State (IS) group.

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