The Yemen-based al-Qaida branch that Charlie Hebdo killers Said and Chérif Kouachi claimed to be working on behalf of—al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP—has annnounced that it was responsible for the attacks. The organization says current worldwide al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri ordered the murders and that they were arranged in part by Anwar al-Awlaki, a New Mexico-born radical cleric who was killed by an American drone attack in 2011. From the New York Times:
The Qaeda statement said that “the one who chose the target, laid the plan and financed the operation is the leadership of the organization.”
The claim of responsibility appeared in an Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula video featuring one of the group’s leaders and simultaneously in a print statement sent to reporters, which bore the insignia of group’s publication arm, Al Malahem.
The al-Qaida publication Inspire, which had advocated the murder of Charlie Hebdo editor Stéphane Charbonnier, is produced by AQAP.
Authorities have said that both Said and Chérif Kouachi traveled to Yemen, though Said Kouachi’s wife denied in a piece printed Tuesday that her husband had gone to the country in 2011 as reported.