01.14.15

Los Angeles Times: Yemen branch of Al Qaeda says it planned Paris attack

Brian Bennett, Paul Richter and Laura King of the Los Angeles Times reports on Yemen branch of Al Qaeda in Paris attack

Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen on Wednesday claimed responsibility for planning and financing last week’s massacre at a satirical magazine in Paris. The assertion came as U.S. intelligence agencies' ability to track the group has been hobbled by civil unrest in the Arab nation and its political power-sharing deal with an Iranian-backed rebel group.

In a nearly 12-minute video posted online Wednesday, Nasr Ansi, a senior commander for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, said the terrorist group known as AQAP “chose the target, laid out the plan and financed” the Jan. 7 attack on the Paris editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo.

“The increasing instability is deeply worrying and the new dynamic created by the Houthi advance will undoubtedly scramble our counter-terrorism efforts there,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

The civil war in Yemen has created “fertile ground for a resurgence of AQAP,” Schiff said. “And it wasn't as if AQAP was a marginal threat to begin with.”

In October 2010, Saudi intelligence helped U.S. and British intelligence disrupt an AQAP plot to smuggle explosives in printer cartridges that were shipped on cargo planes bound for Chicago.

After the Paris attack, suspicion quickly fell on AQAP. Months earlier, the group had designated Charlie Hebdo and its editor in chief, Stephane Charbonnier, as targets for publishing cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. Charbonnier was among those killed in last week's attack.

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By:  Brian Bennett, Paul Richter and Laura King
Source: Los Angeles Times