Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). (Photo: file)
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). (Photo: file)

Sanaa, Yemen, 20 Rabi’ul Awwal 1436/11 January 2015 (MINA) – Al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on the French Charlie Hebdo magazine, saying the shooting was an operation to teach the French the limits of freedom of expression.

Abu Hareth al-Nezari, an senior member of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), made the claim in an audio recording published online late on Friday.

“Some French were not polite with the prophets and that was the reason why a few of the believers, who loved Allah and his prophet and loved martyrdom, went to them to teach them how to behave and how to be polite with the prophets and to teach them that the freedom of expression has limits and boundaries,” al-Nezari said in the recording, Al Jazeera quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

He also warned that France would not enjoy security unless it stopped what he called a “war” on Islam.

Wednesday’s attack on the magazine’s office, that left 12 people dead, and ensuing hostage seizes have shocked France and triggered a massive seucity operation. In addition to those killed at Charlie Hebdo , three civilians and two police officers have been killed.

One of the attackers, Said Kouachi, claimed to have been trained and financed by al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Yemeni intelligence officials confirmed to Al Jazeera that he had indeed been in Yemen in 2011, fighting with al-Qaeda, and had been deported.

If confirmed, the attack would be the first time AQAP has successfully carried out an operation in the West after at least two earlier attempts. The group is considered the most active and dangerous branch of al-Qaeda.

Al Jazeera’s Omar Al Saleh, reporting from the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, said AQAP had previously made attempts to attract supporters in the West, including by launching an online magazine. It has also called on individuals to carry out attacks independently – referred to as “lone wolf” attacks.

AQAP orchestrated the December 2009 attempt to bomb an American passenger jet over Detroit in which Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab failed to detonate explosives.

In 2010, the group attempted to send bombs in packages to be delivered to targets in the US, but the packages were intercepted on flights through Europe and the United Arab Emirates. (T/P001/P3)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)