AQAP Operatives, ISIS Supporters Glorify Paris Attack; AQAP Activists Boast That Attackers Were Members Of Their Organization

January 8, 2015

The following report is a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

The day after the deadly shooting at the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo weekly in Paris, jihad supporters on social media continued to glorify the perpetrators of the attack. In particular, activists of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) boasted that the shooters were members of their organization (though AQAP has not officially claimed responsibility for it) and distributed images, banners and videos in praise of the shooting. They emphasized the role of AQAP and of its English-language magazine Inspire in encouraging lone wolf attackers, mentioning that Inspire had published a "wanted poster" featuring the editor of Charlie Hebdo, Stéphane Charbonnier, who was killed in yesterday's shooting. Others posted quotes by Osama bin Laden, calling for acting against those who insult the Prophet, and also referred to various "crimes" committed by France, such as its invasion of Mali.

Islamic State (ISIS) activists and supporters also praised the attack, while emphasizing their organization's role in inciting attacks against Western targets. They also stressed that the perpetrators were motivated to take vengeance on France for its role in the international campaign against ISIS. ISIS supporters are for now avoiding directly addressing reports that the perpetrators had claimed responsibility in the name of AQAP.

Likewise, jihadi supporters on social media continued to promise that there would be a follow-up to this attack, and that the West should expect additional attacks.

Below are a few prominent examples of responses by such activists over the past day:

An AQAP media activist named Al-Battar Al-Dhamari tweeted: "The soldiers of Abu Basir [AQAP leader Nasir Al-Wuhayshi] took revenge in the name of Muslims on the sons of Crusaders and apostasy, in their very home. What will come later will be even more striking and bitter. Allah guide them in their shooting."

AQAP supporters also posted an image of Al-Wuhayshi superimposed on a photo from the attack, with a quote from a female survivor who said that the attackers claimed to belong to AQAP.

Another AQAP operatives known as Mawlawi Abdallah tweeted: "One of the men wanted by Al-Qaeda has been eliminated – praise Allah, and the other wanted men are soon to come, Allah willing." The tweet included the photos of nine Western journalists and cartoonists, as published in Issue 10 of AQAP's Inspire magazine in March 2013, with Charlie Hebdo editor Stéphane Charbonnier's picture marked with a red X. The image includes the text: "Appreciation, greetings, and thanks from the ummah of Islam, to those who have avenged Prophet Muhammad."


The "wanted poster" from Inspire with Charlie Hebdo editor Stéphane Charbonnier's photo x'ed out

Mawlawi Abdallah also posted a picture of Yemeni-American AQAP preacher Anwar Al-'Awlaki and wrote: "Glad tidings, O martyr of da'wa... The lone wolves continue to rip the West to shreds." The picture of Al-'Awalki is superimposed on a picture from the Paris attack and includes a quote from Al-'Awlaki in English: "It is not enough to have the intention of doing good. One must do good in the proper way. So what is the proper solution to this growing campaign of defamation [of the Prophet Muhammad?]... The medicine prescribed by the Messenger of Allah is the execution of those involved."

Another AQAP operative known as Danyal tweeted: "They [unclear whether referring to the West or Muslims who condemned the attack] did not condemn and were not outraged when French forces made the oppressed Muslims of Mali drink from the chalice of their animosity, but were furious over the victims of the Charlie Hebdo operation! ... Bless you and bless your efforts. May Allah's blessing be upon you, oh heroes of the Charlie Hebdo operation!"

Yemeni preacher Mamoon Hatem, who officially belongs to AQAP but supports joining the Islamic state, attempted to attribute the attack to ISIS: "The Islamic State is the West's new nightmare and its biggest enemy today. The head of the snake and its arms will be cut off, ground up, kneaded, and baked, with Allah's help." While Hatem did not directly refer to the attack, his tweet came shortly after it.

Another AQAP media activist known as Muhannad Ghallab tweeted a picture from a solidarity rally in Boston with a sign that reads "Boston is Charlie" and added: "From Boston to Paris... The message has been delivered." In another tweet he wrote: "#Lone_Jihad strategy proved today it's the best way to exhaust, hurt, & terrorize the west, especially [since] it can't be detected. #CharlieHebdo."

An AQAP militant calling himself Jabal praised the organization's English-language magazine Inspire for motivating the attackers: "Oh you who are responsible for the magazine Inspire, this is the fruit of your efforts to prepare the lone wolves – the individual jihad. May Allah bless you and increase your good reward."

Another AQAP fighter known as Baatek wrote: "The West must understand that we are a nation that does not forget [to take] its vengeance. #AlQaeda"

The pro-Al-Qaeda Twitter account Marsad Al-Jihad Al-'Alami uploaded a YouTube clip edited by a supporter. The clip is accompanied by songs praising jihad, photos of the attack, photos of those wanted for execution by Al-Qaeda, and more.[1]

The Twitter account for Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) published a banner supporting the attack. The banner cites the verse from the Koran which stipulates that anyone who harms Allah or the Prophet will be punished in this world and the next world, as well as a statement by Osama bin Laden to the West: "If there is no limit to your freedom of speech, then be prepared for our freedom of action." The tweet said: "Blessed be the hands that avenged their Prophet."

The Al-Qaeda-linked Syrian-based Saudi preacher 'Abdallah Al-Mheissni wrote: "The lone wolves will not ignore/keep silent over those who defame the Prophet's dignity. I cannot find a more fitting way of killing than the one that seeks to kill in order to defend the Prophet.² he further cites Ibn Taymiyyah[2]: ²Whoever curses the Prophet should be killed," as well as Ibn Al-Mundhir[3]: "A general consensus exists amongst religious jurists that a person who curses the Prophet is punished by death."

A group of pro-ISIS jihadis from Gaza that operate as part of "Al-Nusra Al-Maqdissiya" also praised the attack. Its members wrote: "Some ask who is behind the Paris attack to avenge the Prophet? And we answer: May Allah bless the perpetrators who did this for Islam, whoever they may be, they made us proud." They also wrote: "The attack in France that was carried out to avenge the Prophet, was not the last!! Every Crusader state must get ready to get their share, [as] a fitting punishment, as part of the sanctified vengeance actions. So just you wait, wait! The attack in France that was performed to avenge the Prophet, is a noble act of jihad that befits any faithful Muslim and believer in monotheism in word and deed and in the understanding that jihad is the Muslim path of power."

The group's members linked ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdad to Osama bin Laden: "In the era of Caliph Ibrahim, may Allah preserve him, the pledge of Sheikh Osama bin Laden to avenge the Prophet who [bin Laden] promised – 'our mothers will be bereaved of us if we do not defend the Prophet' – has been fulfilled."

Yemeni Islamic state supporter Yamani Waaftakhir tweeted: "The Crusader West doesn't want to understand that Islam now has a state and a caliphate. So don't think that you are in a remote place safe from harm."

[1], accessed January 8, 2015.

[2] A Sunni Islamic philosopher (1263-1328) who has influenced the Salafists and the jihadis.

[3] Islamic jurist and prominent cleric in Mecca (d. 931).


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