Following a devastating assault on Yemen's defense ministry in early December, Al-Qaeda's Yemeni branch took to the country's airwaves to broadcast one unusual message about the deadly attack: We're sorry.
Militants attacked Yemen's defense ministry headquarters on Dec. 5, killing 52 people and wounding 160. Al-Qaeda's Yemeni offshoot group took credit for the attack at the time. (Via The Wall Street Journal)
But during the assault, at least one of the combatants apparently entered a hospital attached to the complex and began gunning down civilians. Yemen's state TV ran footage of the hospital attack, prompting public outcry. (Via Euronews)
Initially, Al-Qaeda dismissed the footage as fake. But on Sunday the group's military commander Qassim al-Raimi apologized for the civilian killings.
Al-Raimi said militants were told not to attack the hospital or an attached place of prayer, but one of the attackers disobeyed orders. He also offered to financially compensate the families of that attacker's victims. (Via Al Arabiya)
A CNN analyst says the unusually direct and public apology shows how the terrorist group is becoming increasingly conscious about its public image — even as it shows no remorse for other attacks.
"Al Qaeda leaders seem to be waking up to the fact that if they position themselves as the defenders of Muslims, their large-scale killing of Muslim civilians needs to stop."
Despite the mea culpa, Al-Qaeda's Al-Raimi defended the targeting of Yemen's defense ministry as retaliation for U.S. drone strikes in the country, and he warned the group would continue with its jihad.