First Published: 2012-11-24

 

Mauritania police arrest French jihadist on border with Mali

 

Police source says suspect, who entered Mauritania via Morocco, was detained at Nema, Mauritanian town near Malian border.

 

Middle East Online

Foreign jihadists continue to pour into Mali

NOUAKCHOTT - A suspected French jihadist has been arrested on the border between Mauritania and an area of northern Mali occupied by Islamic extremists, a police source said on Friday.

The suspect, who is in his 40s and entered Mauritania via Morocco, was detained on Tuesday at Nema, a Mauritanian town near the Malian border, the source said on condition of anonymity.

"The simple fact that a light-skinned Frenchman wants to go to Azawad (northern Mali) at this time is sufficiently suspicious to security forces," he said.

After the suspect's arrest, he was transferred to Nouakchott for interrogation on his "real intentions, the goal of his voyage and his alleged links with jihadists" of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the source added.

Azawad is the name given by Tuareg nomads to northern Mali.

The region was taken over by Tuareg separatists and Islamic extremists following a coup in Bamako that overthrew Mali's elected government in March.

The Islamists later wrested control from the separatists and now control the vast arid zone, where they have imposed a brutal form of sharia, or Islamic law, whipping smokers and drinkers, stoning unmarried couples and amputating the hands of thieves.

The police source said that even if the Frenchman "was a normal man, without ties to the terrorists, it was our duty to prevent him from carrying out his plan" to go to Timbuktu, one of the occupied cities.

French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot confirmed the arrest during a press conference.

"We are in contact with Mauritanian authorities who arrested him," he said.

Regional security sources said in early November that dozens of young Europeans and Africans living in Europe had attempted to join the ranks of the Islamists in northern Mali.

On November 3, French-Malian citizen Ibrahim Aziz Ouattara, 24, was arrested in Sevare in central Mali on his way to join the Islamists. Parisian prosecutors have opened an investigation into his arrest.

Witnesses have also seen scores of jihadists from Sudan and Western Sahara arriving in the zone.

Western powers, fearful the region could become a haven for terrorists, are backing an international African armed force which is preparing to drive out the Islamists.

 

US-led coalition warplanes hit IS near Syria's Al-Bab

Tunisia facing mounting calls against jail-for-joint law

Iraq forces 'liberate' eastern Mosul

Iran's oldest high-rise building on fire collapses

Syria war forces elderly to take shelter in retirement homes

IMF says Egypt on track for next aid tranche

Bahrain police disperse Shiite protesters

Key Syria rebel group opts out of Astana peace talks

Moroccan Sufi ‘living master’ dies at 95

France says Iraqi jihadist among 2015 stadium bombers

Russia, Turkey stage first joint air strikes against IS in Syria

IS advances on terrified citizens of Syria’s Deir Ezzor

In path to greater executive power, Erdogan faces weak Turkey economy

Switzerland drops war crimes case against former Algerian defence minister

Patience wears thin in Iraq's Fallujah

New UN chief stresses importance of Syria peace talks

Istanbul nightclub attacker 'received orders from IS'

Turkish border officials refuse entry to NYT reporter

Fatah, Hamas agree to form unity government

Snowden’s stay in Russia extended by two years

Palestinian home demolitions spark deadly violence

East Syria clashes continue between IS, regime forces

Syrian general, 8 soldiers killed in tunnel blast

Florida airport shooter ‘inspired’ by IS jiahdists

Iran opposes US joining Syria talks

Turkey snubs UN hearing on detained Rwanda genocide judge

Rouhani calls for end to Saudi ‘interference’ across region

Saudi says China rise source of global stability not conflict

Lengthy drought leaves Somalia with serious famine risk

Gunman found in comfy Istanbul flat

Iran, Syria sign phone, petrol deals in Tehran

Jordan charges 8 with inciting opposition against regime

Iranian president rules out renegotiating nuclear deal

Turkey prosecutors demand up to 142 years in jail for Kurd leader

180 dead after boat capsizes in Mediterranean

Saudi carries out first death sentence of 2017

Libyan granted right to sue UK ex-minister for rendition

Syria regime, rebels name heads of delegation for Astana talks

Istanbul nightclub attacker captured

Syria troops, IS jihadists battle on in Deir Ezzor

Israel occupation forces rearrest Palestinian journalist

Russian FM says Syria peace talks to ‘consolidate’ ceasefire

Amnesty warns EU's anti-terror laws threaten human rights

Saudi health emergency after mass food poisoning

Darfur rebel groups rebuilding their forces in Libya, South Sudan