AQAP claims responsibility for Charlie Hebdo attack – CNN

(CNN)[Breaking news update at 5:25 a.m. ET]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for last week’s attack at France’s Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper, which left 12 people dead.

[Previous story, published at 4:50 a.m. ET]

One week ago today, the newsroom of Charlie Hebdo was shattered in a gruesome attack that would leave 12 people dead and launch three days of terror in France.

The grief and cries for free speech reverberated around the world. So did questions about whether the newspaper should provocatively depict the Prophet Mohammed, an act many Muslims deem offensive.

    But that’s exactly what surviving staff members of Charlie Hebdo did — selling its latest edition Wednesday with an image of a crying Prophet Mohammed.

    “All is forgiven,” the cover reads. Such words could be cathartic for both sides of the debate.

    But freedom of speech in France apparently has its limits.

    French comedian arrested

    Controversial French humorist and actor Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, better known as simply Dieudonne, was arrested in Paris, accused of publicly supporting terrorism, multiple French media reported.

    One Facebook post read: “You should know tonight that as far as I am concerned I am Charlie Coulibaly” — an apparent reference to Amedy Coulibaly, the man who killed four hostages at a Parisian kosher grocery store Friday.

    Coulibaly has also been linked to brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, the gunmen in the Charlie Hebdo attack.

    Dieudonne’s Facebook post has been removed.

    This isn’t the first time Dieudonne has stirred controversy. He has been fined several times in France for anti-Semitic commentary. Last year, the French government said it wanted to ban his live performances.

    On Monday, Dieudonne issued a statement with his stance on the terror attacks.

    “Yesterday we all were Charlie. We all walked and stood up for freedoms to be allowed to laugh at everything,” he wrote in a letter to the French interior minister.

    “Yet when I came back home, I felt all alone … Since the beginning of last year, I have been treated as public enemy number one, when all I try to do is make people laugh, and laugh about death, because death laughs at us all, as Charlie knows now, unfortunately.”

    He added that “I am looked upon as if I were Amedy Coulibaly, when I am no different from Charlie.”

    On guard

    With the country on his highest level of alert, France has deployed 10,000 troops across the country. Thousands of police officers have also been deployed, including hundreds assigned to protect Jewish schools.

    Although the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly were killed by authorities, the hunt is still on for Coulibaly’s widow, Hayat Boumeddiene. who may have played a role in the attacks.

    And a French man arrested in Bulgaria could provide further clues.

    Fritz-Joly Joachin was arrested near the border with Turkey for allegedly kidnapping his son, Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Betina Joteva said.

    The ministry said that Joachin will remain in custody until at least January 20, when a “court will consider (a) second warrant related to terrorism charges.”

    Belgian prosecutors said the terrorism charge is regarding Joachin’s contacts with the Kouachi brothers, AFP reported.

    “The charges are for participation in an organized crime group whose aim was … terrorist acts,” Slavova said.

    Bulgarian officials referred further questions to French authorities.

    It’s not clear what Joachin’s contact with the Kouachi brothers entailed.

    Charlie Hebdo sales soar

    Even before the latest Charlie Hebdo issue hit newsstands Wednesday, it had sold out at market kiosks along the iconic Champs Elysees. Some had reserved early issues in advance.

    Charlie Hebdo’s press run increased fifty-fold from its usual 60,000 copies to 3 million. Parisians lined up in droves at newsstands in the pre-dawn hours, waiting to get a copy.

    And as the new cover spread across social media with another image of the Prophet Mohammed, Muslims responded with a mix of emotions, from wariness to appreciation, from miffed to dismissive.

    Yahya Adel Ibrahim, an imam in Australia, counseled his 100,000 Facebook followers to follow the example of Mohammed, even if they encounter images that they believe are blasphemous.

    “As it is clear that the cartoons are to be published again, Muslims will inevitably be hurt and angered, but our reaction must be a reflection of the teachings of the one we love & are angered for,” Ibrahim said. “Enduring patience, tolerance, gentleness and mercy was the character of our beloved Prophet.”


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