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Al-Qaeda In Yemen Claims Responsibility For Charlie Hebdo Attack

 Nasr al-Ansi, a top commander of the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Nasr al-Ansi, a top commander of the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Al-Qaeda in Yemen has claimed responsibility for last week’s attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The claim appeared on the Internet on January 14 as copies of the weekly’s latest edition, with a cover showing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, quickly sold out in France.

Meanwhile, the French government said that at least 50 people have been detained for defending terrorism since the attack.

Gunmen shouting Islamist slogans stormed into Charlie Hebdo’s Paris headquarters on January 7, killing 12 people including senior editors and cartoonists and launching three days of attacks in which a total of 17 victims were killed in the French capital.

In a video message posted on the Internet, a top commander of the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Nasr al-Ansi, said the assailants were assigned to attack the magazine as "vengeance" for Muhammad.

The magazine had received repeated threats for its published caricatures of the Muslim Prophet.

Ansi said AQAP "chose the target, laid out the plan, and financed the operation" following orders by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri.

He also said France belongs to the "party of Satan" and warned of more "tragedies and terror."

The suspected Charlie Hebdo attackers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, said they were acting on behalf of AQAP. They were killed by police during a manhunt on January 9.

Four Jewish men died two days later when a third gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, took hostages at a kosher supermarket in Paris. Coulibaly was killed by security forces at about the same time as the Kouachi brothers on January 9.

Millions of people marched in Paris on January 11 to honor the victims, and the remaing staff of Charlie Hebdo quickly went to work on a new issue, which went on sale at newspaper kiosks across France on January 14.

Its cover showed a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad shedding a tear and holding a sign reading "I am Charlie" -- words that have been used by media outlets and millions of people worldwide to show solidarity with the victims and declared heir support for the freedom of speech.

The words "All is forgiven" appear above the Prophet on the cover.

The magazine publisher announced plans to publish 5 million copies of the new edition -- 2 million more than initially planned.

Normally, only 60,000 are printed each week.

The special edition has been translated into six languages, including Arabic, and was to be sold in 25 countries.

The publication of a new Muhammad cartoon has drawn reactions in the Muslim world, with Iran saying it was "insulting" and "provocative."

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said the cover "provokes the emotions of Muslims and hurts their feelings" and could "fan the flame of a vicious circle of extremism."

Speaking in Geneva, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said "sanctities" must be respected.

Egypt's Grand Mufti Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam has described the new Muhammad caricature as an "unwarranted provocation" that would cause a "new wave of hatred in French and Western society."

The Qatar-based International Union of Muslim Scholars said, "It is neither reasonable, nor logical, nor wise to publish drawings and films offensive or attacking the prophet of Islam."

The publication of the new cartoon gives further "credibility" to the idea that "the West is against Islam," it said, adding that the images would further "stir up hatred, extremism and tension."

The Islamic State (IS) militant group said on its radio station that the publication of the cartoon was "an extremely stupid act."

The supermarket gunman, Coulibaly, had pledged allegiance to the group.

In Turkey, daily newspaper Cumhuriyet published a section of the magazine, including a small image of the cover in one of its columns.

Along with a Charlie Hebdo editorial about how it would not give into the attacks, the excerpts included cartoons satirizing Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram and IS militants.

Local media reported that delivery vans were allowed to leave the press after police ensured that there were no images of Muhammad in the re-print.

Turkey's three main satirical magazines -- Leman, Penguen, and Uykusuz -- published identical black covers with the popular slogan "Je Suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) used in homage to the slain journalists.

Controversial French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala is one of what the French government said on January 14 were at least 50 people detained on suspicion of defending terrorism since the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

In a Facebook post on January 12, Dieudonne said he felt like "Charlie Coulibaly" -- mixing the slogan "Je Suis Charlie" with the name of one of the three gunmen.

Speaking on January 13 after funeral ceremonies were held in France and Israel for victims of the attacks, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on that his country was at war with extremism and terrorism, but not with Muslims.

The government has deployed 10,000 troops at sites across the country, including synagogues, mosques, and airports, in response to the attacks.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due to meet French President Francois Hollande in Paris on January 16 to discuss last week’s attacks.

Speaking in Baghdad on January 14, U.S. envoy John Allen said on January 14 that attacks by militants in Paris and other Western cities underline the need for a "global response" to the IS group.

Allen, who is coordinating international efforts against the militants, said the IS group's "dark, violent ideology has a long reach," inspiring militants to carry out attacks in Sydney, Ottawa, and Brussels.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP