In an online video, the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula warns French people to stop aggression against Muslims
A top leader of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) praised the attacks at the Charlie Hebdo magazine and at a Jewish supermarket in Paris, threatening France with more attacks “if they did not stop abusing Muslims”, according to a video posted on Saturday.
A sign in French reads ‘Je Suis Charlie’ or ‘I am Charlie’, at a rally in Lille, France. Pic/AFP
In the five-minute online video, the AQAP Sharia official, Harith al-Nadhari, praised the two brothers, Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi, who were killed by the French police on Friday after a hostage standoff.
He warned French people “to stop aggression against Muslims or to face more attacks as a punishment.”
France hunts suspect
Meanwhile, France’s government urged the nation to remain vigilant on Saturday, as thousands of security forces try to thwart new attacks and hunt down a suspect in a rampage by terrorists that left 20 dead. Three attackers were killed after three days of bloodshed at the offices of a satirical newspaper, a kosher supermarket and other sites around Paris.
Security forces were deployed around the capital, guarding places of worship and tourist sites, and preparing for a huge demonstration on Sunday to show unity against extremists. World leaders including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Britain’s David Cameron are expected to join the event.
French Interior Minister Bernard said investigators are focusing on determining whether the attackers were part of a larger extremist network. Five people are in custody as part of the investigation, and family members of the attackers are among several given preliminary charges so far.
Al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen said it directed Wednesday’s attack against the publication Charlie Hebdo to avenge the honour of the Prophet Muhammad, a frequent target of the weekly’s satire. Said and Cherif Kouachi, were known to the authorities — one had a terrorism-related conviction for ties to a network sending fighters to battle American forces in Iraq, and were on the US no-fly list.
A French radio released an audio of the attacker who seized hostages in the kosher supermarket, Amedy Coulibaly, in which he lashes out over Western military campaigns against extremists in Syria and Mali. He describes Osama bin Laden as an inspiration.
Coulibaly’s wife, Hayat Boumeddiene, left France last week and travelled to Syria via Turkey, a source said. Police have named her as an accomplice and think she is armed.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo granted the status of “honorary citizen” to Charlie Hebdo. “Our city shows a heroic newspaper the respect due to heroes,” she said. Meanwhile, Fictional cartoon Tintin, on turning 86 on Saturday, expressed his solidarity with the victims of the attack on its website: “His anniversary is marked by the most horrible recent attacks against employees of Charlie Hebdo.”