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.

 

Horse-trading begins as Tunisia awaits formation of new government

Jihadists flock to fight on ‘unprecedented scale’

UK court says Libyan Abdul-Hakim Belhaj can sue over rendition

Syria accuses Turkey of ‘flagrant violation of sovereignty’

Global campaign to end female genital mutilation kicks off

US to examine troops exposed to chemicals in Iraq

African Union hits back at Somalia rape claims

New scare in Turkey as ‘suspect packages’ found

‘Insults against Netanyahu’ cause embarrassment to US

Kuwait online activist gets four years in jail for insulting judges

Heavy fighting in South Sudan sparks fears of humanitarian catastrophe

Sweden officially recognises State of Palestine

Egypt jails retired general for damaging national security

Israel closes al-Aqsa mosque to worshipers in rare move

Gaza civil servants receive delayed salaries

After US criticism, Israel vows no concessions to Palestinians

Libya internationally recognised PM opens doors of dialogue with rivals

Huthi rebels seize stronghold of Muslim Brotherhood in central Yemen

Will Nidaa Tounes shun Islamists in Tunisia government formation?

Egypt starts work on buffer zone along border with Gaza

Turkey Sultan unveils new palace: Another break with symbols of secular state

Heavy toll as ‘Islamic State’ fights for control of Syria oil field

Iran President suffers fresh setback with rejection of Science Minister

Nuclear deal or no deal: ‘Red lines’ lay bare internal divisions in Iran

Heavy security in Mogadishu as UN chief meets Somalia president

Fighters from Free Syrian Army leave Turkey to join Kobane battle

Israel denies banning Palestinians sharing buses

Kurd fighters leave northern Iraq base for Syria deployment

Jordan requests UN emergency meeting over Israel settler expansion

Jerusalem Mayor visits Al-Aqsa mosque prompting anger

Tunisia reinforces commitment to democracy with ‘transparent’ elections

Turkey ‘decides’ for Kobane future: No Kurds, no Assad... Only Free Syrian Army!

Bahrain suspends Al-Wefaq weeks before parliamentary elections

Huge game changer in Tunisia: ‘In-credible’ failure of Islamist Ennahda Party

Libya PM in Khartoum for talks with Bashir

PKK hijack truck seizing explosive substance

Saudi lawyers get jail time for offensive tweets

Ennahda concedes defeat in Tunisia parliamentary elections

Syria rebels launch assault on regime-held city of Idlib

Iraq peshmerga wait for Turkey stance to depart for Syria

Sisi enacts military trials decree to cover ‘existential threat’

US calls for online war against ‘Islamic State’

Donors pledge $8 billion for Horn of Africa

Acid attacks in Iran: Deputy of Judiciary Chief to lead investigation

Lebanon army enters Islamist stronghold in Tripoli