Authorities in Mali have arrested a suspected French radical Muslim.
A Defense Ministry official says 24-year-old Ibrahim Ouattara was recently detained in Sevare, a town in central Mali that borders territory held by Islamist militants.
The official says Ouattara, under interrogation, said he was on his way to the city of Timbuktu to join jihadists. He said Ouattara was traveling under a false identity.
Ouattara is a French citizen of Malian descent. French authorities arrested him several years ago for planning to assassinate a prominent Muslim cleric in Paris. He is suspected of having ties to the al-Qaida-linked militant groups who control northern Mali.
Witnesses have reported the presence of foreign fighters among the groups.
West African countries are preparing a plan to deploy troops in Mali with the goal of driving out the militants.