— Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula poseted an online video taking credit for the deadly attack on France’s Charlie Hebdo magazine, but officials said they doubted the claim.
— French President Francois Hollande sent an aircraft carrier to aid on airstrikes on the Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.
— French authorities began rounding up those who spoke in support of the Charlie Hebdo killings, or who used racist or anti-religious language.
Defying the attackers’ claims that they had avenged the Prophet Muhammad, whom the magazine had repeatedly lampooned, the editors put a caricature of the Muhammad on the cover. Its 3 million-copy press run — 50 times the usual number — quickly sold out, and another 2 million copies are to be distributed today.
A leader of Yemen’s al-Qaida branch, in a video posted online, claimed responsibility for the Jan. 7 attack by gunmen Cherif and Said Kouachi, which left 12 dead at the weekly publication. A third attacker killed five people at a kosher market on Jan. 9, bringing the total number of dead to 17.
Police killed all three attackers.
On alert for new attacks, France deployed thousands of police and soldiers around the country, and they moved to quash any racist remarks or praise for terrorists. At least 54 people were arrested for hate speech or other acts insulting religion, or for cheering the men who carried out the attacks.
The new issue of Charlie Hebdo features the prophet, a tear rolling down his cheek, holding a placard that says “Je Suis Charlie.” The saying has swept France and the world, with the irreverent newspaper being embraced as a symbol of freedom of speech.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls held up his copy after the weekly Cabinet meeting — but strategically placed his hand over the prophet’s face.
Muslims believe their faith forbids depictions of Muhammed, and some reacted with dismay — and occasional anger — to the new cover. Defending his caricature, cartoonist Renald Luzier argued that there should be no exceptions to freedom of expression.
He said when Charlie Hebdo was threatened in the past for such cartoons, the reaction was often: “Yes, but you shouldn’t do that. Yes, but you deserved that.”
“There should be no more ‘Yes, but,” he said.
Egypt and Iran condemned the “provocative” publication. Egypt’s top Islamic authority, Dar al_Ifta, had warned against publishing the cover after its content became known Monday.
President Francois Hollande, meanwhile, spoke aboard the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to members of the military, ssaying he was sending the warship to the Middle East as part of the ramped-up effort to fight terrorism. The situation “justifies the presence of our aircraft carrier,” Hollande said.
France is already carrying out airstrikes over Iraq as part of an international coalition fighting the Islamic State group.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, one of al-Qaida central’s most active affiliates, posted its 11-minute video on the group’s Twitter account. A top commander, Nasr al-Ansi, warned of more “tragedies and terror” in the future.
Al-Ansi said AQAP “chose the target, laid out the plan and financed the operation.” He said the radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in September 2011, had arranged the attack.
But a high-ranking French intelligence official said French authorities see the claim as “opportunistic,” and that AQAP appears to have served as an inspiration — not the orchestrator — of the attacks. That was in accord with U.S. intelligence officials, who said they had no evidence AQAP coordinated the attack or knew of it in advance. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were notauthorized to discuss classified matters publicly.
Across France, police were detaining anyone who expressed even verbal support for terrorism or racism and anti-Semitism. Scores of mosques have been attacked in the past week.
The 54 people arrested included four minors, and several already had been convicted under special measures for immediate sentencing. Inciting terrorism can bring a five-year prison term — or up to seven years for inciting terrorism online.
France already has laws on the books against hate speech, especially anti-Semitism in the wake of the Holocaust. However, the Justice Ministry laid out new rules to prosecutors and judges for rounding up those who defend the Paris terror attacks or speak against religions.
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