A top leader of Yemen’s Al-Qaida branch claimed responsibility Wednesday for the deadly terror attack on satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) commander Nasr Ali al-Ansi said in a video message that the attack was “vengeance” for Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, according to the Agence France-Presse.
The AFP reported that Ansi said the group conceived of and financed the attack at the orders of al-Qaida’s global leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. He referred to the suspects in the attack, Cherif and Said Kouachi, as “heroes.”
Ansi also channeled deceased al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in issuing the warning “If the freedom of your speech is not restrained, then you should accept the freedom of our actions,” according to the AFP.
The AQAP leader offered no evidence to support his claims, although anonymous Yemeni security officials told the Associated Press last week that Said Kouachi is suspected of having fought for the group.
Ansi’s message came the same day that the first issue of Charlie Hebdo published since the attack was published with a cartoon of Muhammad on its cover.