Qassim al Raymi, commander of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), said in a video posted Saturday on an al-Qaida website that the nine attackers did not intend to target civilians in the attack on the Sanaa, Yemen, military complex on Dec. 19.
Al Raymi said the main target was the "controlling rooms" of U.S. drones. He added his organization accepted responsibility for the attack and pledged to make payments to victims' relatives.
The attack killed 52 people, mostly hospital personnel and patients, and horrific video footage broadcast on Yemeni television caused national outrage, the Dubai-based Gulf News reported Sunday.
A leading analyst on al-Qaida activities, Saeed Obaid al Jumahi, told Gulf News al Raymi's statement was an attempt to justify the attack, saying, "Al-Qaida has never been in such terrible trouble before. As the attack on medics and patients cannot be justified, it took them two weeks to come up with adequate explanation."
Another analyst, Abdul Bari Taher, told Gulf News he thinks the attacks were aided and sponsored by other parties.
"This is part of a series of games. Al-Qaida doesn't have the ability to carry [out] such a big and sophisticated attack," he said.