The Yemenese branch of the al Qaeda terrorist group came forward today to claim responsibility for the attacks on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7.
The al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) stated that the attack was years in the making, according to a new video released by the group. While the group claimed that they ordered and financed the attack that happened exactly one week ago, they say that the follow-up siege at a kosher grocery store in Paris on January 9 wasn't their doing.
"The intelligence community is working as quickly as possible" to determine the video's authenticity, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey said earlier today. "If genuine, this is only the latest example of the wanton brutality that is al Qaeda's calling card and which it has visited upon innocents of all faiths."
According to the video, the attack was originated by American-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki who was also suspected of coordinating the attack at Fort Hood in 2009 that killed 13 soldiers, as well as the failed attempt to bring down a passenger jetliner over Detroit later that year. He was killed in 2011 during a CIA mission in Jawf, Saudi Arabia, but al Qaeda says that the attack plan was started before his death.
"When the heroes were assigned, they accepted. They promised and fulfilled," AQAP commander Nasr Ibn Ali al-Ansi said on the video that was sent to major news sites around the globe. Al-Ansi said that the attack was in response to Charlie Hebdo's depictions of Muhammad, but he also laid the blame on France and the United States.
"It is France that has shared all of America's crimes," he added. "It is France that has committed crimes in Mali and the Islamic Maghreb (north Africa). It is France that supports the annihilation of Muslims in Central Africa in the name of race cleansing."
He also added that the kosher supermarket attack was "a blessing from Allah."
The Charlie Hebdo shooting claimed the lives of 12 people, including the magazine's editor and seven other Charlie Hebdo employees. Consequent hostage situations and attacks in the next two days claimed the lives of five more people, including the three suspects in the original shooting at the hands of French police.
The magazine, unfaltered by the attacks, released its latest issue today featuring another depiction of Muhammad on the cover saying "All is Forgiven." The issue sold out 3 million copies by sunrise as eager supporters camped out overnight waiting for newstands to open.
Charlie Hebdo columnist Patrick Pelloux wrote on his Twitter that more copies will soon be made. "Thank you, and rest assured we will reprint and redistribute." The magazine is expected to print another 2 million copies soon to accommodate what some are calling a piece of history.
While many prominent news organizations are cowering away from showing the controversial new cover, some others are standing up to the terrorist threats and supporting the freedom of speech that the Paris magazine was built on.
American intelligence officials are currently investigating the video and hunting for the fourth suspect in the attack, who is still at large.