Al-Qaeda in Yemen has claimed responsibility for last week’s attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The claim appeared on the Internet on January 14 as copies of the weekly’s latest edition, with a cover showing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, quickly sold out in France.
Meanwhile, the French government said that more than 50 people had been detained for defending terrorism since the attack.
Gunmen shouting Islamist slogans stormed into Charlie Hebdo’s Paris headquarters on January 7, killing 12 people including senior editors and cartoonists and launching three days of attacks in which a total of 17 victims were killed in the French capital.
In a video message posted on the Internet, a top commander of the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Nasr al-Ansi, said the assailants were assigned to attack the magazine as “vengeance” for Muhammad.
The magazine had received repeated threats for its published caricatures of the Muslim prophet.
Ansi said AQAP “chose the target, laid out the plan, and financed the operation” following orders by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri.
He also said France belonged to the “party of Satan” and warned of more “tragedies and terror.”
The suspected Charlie Hebdo attackers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, said they were acting on behalf of AQAP. They were killed by police during a manhunt on January 9.
Four Jewish men died on January 9 when a third gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, took hostages at a kosher supermarket in Paris. Coulibaly was killed by security forces at about the same time as the Kouachi brothers.
Charlie Hebdo Back On Newsstands
Millions of people marched in Paris on January 11 to honor the victims, and the remaing staff of Charlie Hebdo quickly went to work on a new issue, which went on sale at newspaper kiosks across France on January 14.
Its cover showed a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad shedding a tear and holding a sign reading “I am Charlie” — words that have been used by media outlets and millions of people worldwide to show soldarity with the victims and declared their support for the freedom of speech.
The words “All is forgiven” appear above the Prophet on the cover.
Zineb El Rhazoui, a journalist with the weekly, said the cover meant the journalists are forgiving the extremists for the attack.
The magazine publisher announced plans to publish 5 million copies of the new edition — 2 million more than initially planned.
Normally, only 60,000 are printed each week.
The special edition has been translated into six languages, including Arabic, and was to be sold in 25 countries.
Muslim World Slams Cartoons
The publication of a new Muhammad cartoon has drawn reactions in the Muslim world, with Iran saying it was “insulting” and “provocative.”
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said the cover “provokes the emotions of Muslims and hurts their feelings” and could “fan the flame of a vicious circle of extremism.”
Speaking in Geneva, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that “sanctities” must be respected.
Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam has described the new Muhammad caricature as an “unwarranted provocation” that would cause a “new wave of hatred in French and Western society.”
The Qatar-based International Union of Muslim Scholars said, “It is neither reasonable, nor logical, nor wise to publish drawings and films offensive or attacking the Prophet of Islam.”
The publication of the new cartoon gives further “credibility” to the idea that “the West is against Islam,” it said, adding that the images would further “stir up hatred, extremism, and tension.”
The Islamic State (IS) mliitant group said on its radio station that the publication of the cartoon was “an extremely stupid act.”
The supermarket gunman, Coulibaly, had pledged allegiance to the group.
In Turkey, the Cumhuriyet daily newspaper published a section of the magazine, including a small image of the cover in one of its columns.
Along with a Charlie Hebdo editorial about how it would not give into the attacks, the excerpts included cartoons satirizing Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram and IS militants.
Local media reported that delivery vans were allowed to leave the press after police ensured that there were no images of Muhammad in the reprint.
Turkey’s three main satirical magazines — Leman, Penguen, and Uykusuz — published identical black covers with the popular slogan “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) used in homage to the slain journalists.
Meanwhile, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported that a court in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir ordered Turkey’s telecommunications authority to ban access to web pages showing Charlie Hebdo’s front cover.
Controversial French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala is one of what the French government said on January 14 were at least 50 people detained on suspicion of defending terrorism since the attack on Charlie Hebdo.
In a Facebook post on January 12, Dieudonne said he felt like “Charlie Coulibaly” — mixing the slogan “Je suis Charlie” with the name of one of the three gunmen.
Speaking on January 13 after funeral ceremonies were held in France and Israel for victims of the attacks, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that his country was at war with extremism and terrorism, but not with Muslims.
The government has deployed 10,000 troops at sites across the country, including synagogues, mosques, and airports, in response to the attacks.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due to meet French President Francois Hollande in Paris on January 16 to discuss last week’s attacks.
In Berlin, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said alliance members agreed to increase their cooperation against “foreign fighters” who have traveled abroad to fight alongside Islamic militants.
He said increased cooperation between NATO member states includes “information exchange” when it comes to “fighting the threat related to returning foreign fighters.”
Monitoring groups say thousands of foreign fighters who have joined the ranks of IS militants in Syria and Iraq are from Western countries.
They say thousands of other radicalized European Muslims have traveled to other countries to receive militant training from Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups.
Speaking in Baghdad on January 14, U.S. envoy John Allen said that attacks by militants in Paris and other Western cities underlined the need for a “global response” to the IS group.
Allen, who is coordinating international efforts against the militants, said the IS group’s “dark, violent ideology has a long reach,” inspiring militants to carry out attacks in Sydney, Ottawa, and Brussels.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP