Yemeni Al-Qaeda Claims Paris Attack

Yemeni Al-Qaeda Claims Paris AttackYemeni Al-Qaeda Claims Paris Attack

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) directed the attack against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, a member of the group told AP in a statement Friday.

The statement, provided on condition of anonymity, said the leadership of AQAP directed the operations and “they have chosen their target carefully,” a claim directly referring to the Wednesday attack in Paris, which resulted in 12 people killed.

At least one of the two brothers involved in the attack travelled to Yemen in 2011 and either received training from or fought alongside the group, according to US and Yemeni officials. A US intelligence assessment shows that Said Kouachi was trained in preparation to return home and carry out an attack.

If confirmed, the attack would be the first time Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen has successfully carried out an operation in the West after at least two earlier attempts.

However, it went on to explain that the attack targeted not just the controversial outlet, but France in general “because of its obvious role in the war on oppressed nations.”

According to the source, the group had not claimed responsibility for the attack earlier “due to the executors’ security reasons.”

  Hunt for Accomplices

Police in France are hunting for any accomplices of the gunmen who killed 17 people in two days of terror attacks. One key figure is Hayat Boumeddiene, the partner of Amedy Coulibaly. He was killed when police stormed a supermarket in Paris. She was said to be with Coulibaly when a policewoman was killed and is described as “armed and dangerous.”

The two gunmen who carried out Wednesday’s deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine were killed by police Friday.

French President Francois Hollande praised the police but also warned of further threats. He thanked the security services for their “bravery and efficiency”, saying the week’s violence was “a tragedy for the nation.”

“We have to be vigilant. I also ask you to be united - it’s our best weapon,” he said in a televised address Friday night.

  Global Sympathy

World leaders have rallied to the support of France after the bloody end to two hostage sieges in and near Paris, offering assistance, solidarity and sympathy.

Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s David Cameron, Italy’s Matteo Renzi and Spain’s Mariano Rajoy are to join in a unity rally in central Paris today. Sunday’s demonstration is to be held to show a united front against terrorism. World leaders have telephoned President Francois Hollande to express their personal sympathies.

Additionally, key members of the French government met on Saturday to decide on new measures aimed at thwarting a repeat of the Paris massacre. The meeting was also attended by interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve and justice minister Christine Taubira.

  French Failure

Manuel Valls, France’s prime minister acknowledged “failings” in intelligence that led to a three-day spree of horror and at least 20 people dead, as criticism mounted that the attacks might have been avoided if officials had been more alert to the deadly peril posed by suspects already on their radar.

“There was a failing, of course,” Valls said on BFM television. “That’s why we have to analyze what happened.”

There is an escalating debate over who should be held accountable in the apparent lapses by law enforcement and national security officials. Some security experts, however, noted the huge difficulties faced by authorities in preventing attacks when potential terrorists and their sympathizers number in the thousands on official watch lists.

Criticism has focused on the failure to more closely follow the two brothers who carried out Wednesday’s attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine. One had been convicted on terrorism charges and the other was believed to have linked up with al-Qaeda forces while in Yemen. Both were on the US no-fly list, according to a senior US official, because of their links to terrorist movements.

Michel Thooris, secretary-general of the France Police labor union, called the French attack a “breakdown” in security.

“Either the judicial system is not sentencing them strongly enough, or a failure in police surveillance, this was a military strike against civilians by individuals at war, in a country at peace,” he said.