Tuesday 21 May 2019

Al-Qa'ida warns of new attacks

UK police believe a new terror strike is now 'highly likely'

Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, a leader of the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda (AQAP)
Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, a leader of the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda (AQAP)

Matthew Holehouse

A TOP al-Qa'ida leader in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has released a video claiming responsibility for the 'Charlie Hebdo' attack and warning the West of more "tragedies and terror".

Nasr al-Ansi, a commander of AQAP, as the branch is known, appeared in an 11-minute video, saying that the massacre at 'Charlie Hebdo' was in "vengeance for the prophet".

Responding to the heightened terror alert, paramedics and fire crews in the UK have been issued with bullet-proof vests in preparation for a Paris-style atrocity.

Emergency workers, have been given training in treating devastating gunshot wounds and rescuing casualties during a "marauding" attack by jihadist gunmen.

They have also been taught how to work in buildings, airports and railway stations that may be booby-trapped with improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The existence of the units was revealed by Theresa May, the British Home Secretary, in an update to the Commons last night.

Future training exercises by police and special forces fire-arms teams will incorporate "specific elements" of the Paris attacks, she said.

In Paris yesterday, the new edition of 'Charlie Hebdo' was sold out within hours. The publishers have increased the print run from three to five million, such was the demand. Last week's massacre has forced a global review of security by governments. In the UK, police now believe that an attack on Britain is "highly likely" following the return of around 300 fighters from Iraq and Syria.

So-called 'blue-light responders' have been issued with ballistic vests and helmets, and are trained to deal with what Whitehall terms a 'Marauding Terrorist Firearms Attack'.

In France last night, President Francois Hollande declared that he would dispatch the country's only aircraft carrier, the nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle, to reinforce the campaign against Isil.

Addressing the warship's crew, Mr Hollande prepared them for a deployment in the Middle East where France has joined the US-led air campaign against Isil.

"Thanks to the Charles de Gaulle, we will have precious intelligence," he said. "We may also conduct operations in Iraq, if necessary, with even more intensity and more efficiency. The aircraft carrier will work in close co-operation with coalition forces."

The Charles de Gaulle, which displaces 40,000 tons and serves as the flagship of the French navy, can embark up to 40 warplanes. France has already sent nine Rafale jet fighters and six Mirages to the United Arab Emirates and Jordan respectively.

Earlier yesterday, the al-Qa'ida video, entitled: 'A message regarding the Blessed Battle of Paris', was released via the Al-Malahem Media arm of the group.

In it, Al-Ansi said France belongs to the "party of Satan" and warned of more "tragedies and terror." He claimed the al-Qa'ida branch "chose the target, laid out the plan and financed the operation".

He highlights "crimes" committed in Central Africa, saying: "Look at it. It is France that has shared all of America's crimes. It is France that has committed crimes in Mali and the Islamic Maghreb. It is France that supports the annihilation of Muslims in Central Africa in the name of race cleansing."

Al-Ansi also called for Muslim youth to "rise up" and described the Paris shooting as " a new turning point in the history of confrontation".

In a translation of the video under the heading "Our message to the Western nation", it added: "We have warned you before about the consequences of these deeds that your governments collude with under the pretext of 'freedom of press' or 'freedom of ideas'."

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, during Dail statements on the Paris attacks, said the atrocities were an assault not only on the people of Europe but also on our basic values of freedom and democracy.

"Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are values we in Europe hold dear. Indeed, we sometimes take these freedoms for granted and events last week have underscored the true value of these fundamental rights and the need for deliberate efforts to protect them," he said.

He added: "While some may criticize what is said under freedom of speech, whatever our differences or disagreements may be, violence is not the answer."

Irish Independent

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