In a rare public apology, the militant leader of al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen has said that one of his fighters disobeyed orders and attacked a hospital attached to the Defense Ministry during a December assault that killed 52 people.
commander of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula "Qassim al-Rimi" said in a video posted on militant websites that the attackers were warned in advance not to enter the hospital within the complex, nor a place for prayer there. But he said one fighter did.
"Now we acknowledge our mistake and guilt," al-Rimi said in a video released late Saturday by Al-Qaeda's media arm al-Mallahem. "We offer our apology and condolences to the victims' families. We accept full responsibility for what happened in the hospital and will pay blood money for the victims' families."
The apology seemed prompted by Yemen state television earlier broadcasting a video showing a gunman attacking doctors and other hospital staff. Several al-Qaeda jihadis tried to dismiss the video as fake on militant websites, but the outcry apparently embarrassed the al-Qaeda branch to the point of issuing an unusual expression of regret from the group.
Al-Rimi said "we rid ourselves of what our brother did", adding "we didn't order him to do so and we are not pleased with what he did". However, al-Rimi said despite the group making a mistake, "we are continuing with our jihad".
Al-Rimi repeated Al-Qaeda's earlier claim that the Defense Ministry was attacked because it housed drone control rooms and American experts. He also said that security headquarters used by Americans in their war are "legitimate targets".
He also warned that fighters also will attack any other military posts and camps that "cooperate with the American drones by spying, planting chips, providing information or offering intelligence advice".