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Suspected French jihadist arrested in Mali

Screen capture/sahara médias

A Frenchman suspected of having joined Al-Qaeda has been arrested in northern Mali.

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A Malian government source said 58-year old Gilles Le Guen, who goes by the name Abdel Jelil, was arrested near Timbuktu overnight on Sunday.

The French Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, told radio station Europe 1 Le Guen "was arrested by our forces...there was no tighting, since the situation has almost been stabilised in Timbuktu."

He will be questioned in Mali before being extradited to France, Le Drian said, adding that he has not yet been charged.

Le Guen, originally from Nantes and who worked for the merchant marine, is believed to have joined Al-Qaeda's north African branch, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), sometime after moving to Mali with his family after living in Morocco and Mauritania.

Dossier: War in Mali

In October last eyar, Le Guen appeared, wearing Islamic dress and with a gun at his
side, in a video posted on a Mauritanian website warning France, the United States and the United Nations against a military intervention to rout Islamists from Mali’s vast desert north.

France in January went on to launch and lead the operation.

Le Guen was, however, held prisoner by AQIM for several days in November 2012. Some sources said the group believed he was a spy, while others said AQIM picked him up after he intervened to stop Islamists from mistreating women.

Le Guen's "exact commitment to jihad still needs to be ascertained" when he returns to France, the Malian official said.

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