A spokesman for the al Qaeda in Yemen has stated that they are behind the attacks in Paris. The statement was made to the Associated Press (AP) that they had ordered the attack on the newspaper Charlie Hebdo, but it has not been verified as being official.
The attack at the newspaper’s office left 12 people dead, and 11 wounded. The terrorists had especially targeted the cartoonists who drew cartoons that ridiculed Mohammed and killed them after identifying each one.
As the terrorists left the office, they loudly yelled that they had killed Charlie Hebdo, and that Allah was avenged on them. A witness stated that he heard one of the terrorists say that he was part of the al Qaeda of Yemen. The man who spoke to the AP also declared that the mission of the terrorists in Paris was to get “revenge for the honor” of Mohammed, the prophet of Islam.
Two of those involved in the attack were brothers, Cherif Kouachi and Said Kouachi. Another man, Amedy Coulibaly, is also believed to have been trained by the same al Qaeda cell in Yemen. In the past, all three had been involved in trying to free another terrorist who was in jail. Each of them was also on a government no-fly list.
On Friday, there were two separate hostage situations. When the brothers were cornered in a printing press in northeastern France and had taken a hostage, Coulibaly laid seige on a Jewish grocery store in eastern Paris. He took 19 hostages and was accompanied by a woman, Hayat Boumeddiene. They contacted the authorities and demanded the release of the two brothers.
Boumeddiene is wanted because of Thursday’s shooting death of a policewoman, Clarissa Jean-Philippe. She is the common law wife of Coulibaly. It is not certain if she is associated with al Qaeda, or if she was behind the attacks in Paris at the Hebdo offices.
When the police raided the hiding place of the brothers, the brothers were killed almost instantly and the single hostage went free. In the raid at the grocery store, the police discovered that four of the hostages were already dead. Coulibaly was killed in the attack, but Hayat escaped.
Before the police moved in, Coulibaly was interviewed by French TV. During the interview, he admitted that he had timed his attack with the two brothers.
The only one of the group that is still alive is Hayat, who is thought to have slipped by the police as the 15 hostages came out of the building. She is currently being sought by the French police and there is a massive manhunt taking place to find her.
A young man, Hamyd Mourad, had earlier surrendered to the police after he saw his name in the social media. He has not yet been released but apparently has an alibi, claiming that he was at school when the attack took place.
One of the highest leaders of al Qaeda in Yemen posted a video praising the Charlie Hebdo attack. He did not say whether or not the group had commissioned or ordered the attack.
The people of France continue to rally behind the newspaper, with many of them saying “I am Charlie,” meaning that the spirit of the free press is not dead. They also continue to honor those who died at the newspaper’s offices.
Because of the terror attacks in Paris, and the fact that al Qaeda may be behind them, the United States has issued a travel warning for U.S. citizens. Published by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, it said that although they are not aware of any specific threats, they know that various overseas terror groups will try and attack U.S. citizens, so caution is needed when traveling in other countries.
By Mike Valles