In Box

Caught in the Net: Tunisia’s First Lady

Caught in the Net: Tunisia’s First Lady

Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali isn’t exactly a jet-setter. He rarely leaves Tunisia. So the country’s bloggers were surprised to find that his state airplane logs as many miles as it does. They used plane-spotting Web sites such as Airliners.net and Planepictures.net to track the jet’s movements between 2001 and 2007 and found it made frequent stops in Paris, Milan, Geneva, and elsewhere. The trips, however, are nowhere to be found in the president’s official travel itinerary. But Tunisia’s bloggers think they recognize the frequent flyer: First Lady Leila Ben Ali. She is an unabashed shopaholic, and it may be no coincidence that so many of these unofficial trips were to Europe’s fashion capitals.