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Paris Attack Was Long Coming-Al Qaeda

Paris Attack Was Long Coming-Al Qaeda

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility Wednesday for last week’s rampage that killed 12 people at France’s Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine.

The attack was years in the making, an AQAP leader said in a video, claiming U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was the mastermind behind it.

Al-Awlaki was the terror group’s spokesman before a U.S. drone strike killed him in Yemen in 2011. For days, intelligence analysts have been trying to piece together whether the gunmen who attacked the magazine met him on trips to Yemen — a theory that could be bolstered by the new video’s claim.

AQAP did not claim responsibility for Friday’s deadly siege at a kosher grocery store in Paris, but praised it.

French security services have identified a suspected accomplice in that attack, according to the French newspaper Le Parisien. Police sources cited by the newspaper said one line of investigation is that the accomplice, a man from a Paris suburb, may have driven gunman Amedy Coulibaly to the kosher supermarket, where Coulibaly later shot dead four people.

Coulibaly was killed in a police raid to end the siege. Said and Cherif Kouachi, the brothers who authorities say were behind the Charlie Hebdo attack, also are dead. But investigators’ efforts to track down possible suspects tied to last week’s attacks are continuing.

So is the magazine that the terrorists targeted last week.

Charlie Hebdo’s new edition hit newsstands Wednesday — a week after authorities say terrorists Said and Cherif Kouachi burst into its newsroom and gunned down staffers.

Blessing from Allah’

The claim of responsibility for the deadly attack on the magazine came in a video showing AQAP commander Nasr Ibn Ali al-Ansi, with pictures of the Kouachis in the background.

“When the heroes were assigned, they accepted. They promised and fulfilled,” al-Ansi said.

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He praised the attack, saying it was revenge for Charlie Hebdo’s depictions of Mohammed.

Al-Ansi blamed not only Charlie Hebdo, but also France and the United States.

“It is France that has shared all of America’s crimes,” al-Ansi added. “It is France that has committed crimes in Mali and the Islamic Maghreb. It is France that supports the annihilation of Muslims in Central Africa in the name of race cleansing.” (“Islamic Maghreb” refers to North Africa.)

“It was a blessing from Allah” that the kosher market siege, in which four hostages were killed, took place about the same time, al-Ansi said.

Official: Video is authentic but not sure about claim

U.S. authorities said they think the video is authentic. But they weren’t ready to say that AQAP helped carry out the assault.

“We’re not there yet. There are good indicators” that the group was behind the attack, but the intelligence community is still assessing, a senior administration official told CNN.

Earlier in the day, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey said that, “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.”

Investigators believe Cherif Kouachi left Yemen with as much as $20,000 from AQAP to carry out attacks, a U.S. official said.

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