- By David KennerDavid Kenner is the Middle East editor at Foreign Policy. He is based in Beirut, Lebanon, and has been with FP since 2009 (a long time, he knows). He worked for FP previously in Cairo, where he covered the early days of the Arab Spring, and before that in Washington. He has attended Georgetown University and the American University of Beirut and has reported from Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq.
Last month, Harald Doornbos and Jenan Moussa penned a story for Foreign Policy about Gilles Le Guen, a French citizen who had converted to Islam and joined up with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) during its occupation of the northern Malian town of Timbuktu. Doornbos and Moussa described how AQIM eventually grew suspicious of Le Guen, who styled himself as "Abdul Jalil al-Fransi," and launched a full investigation to determine if he was a French spy.
While al Qaeda’s investigation ended inconclusively, we may finally have an answer to the question of whether Le Guen was a spy or a true believer. French troops captured him north of Timbuktu on Sunday night. They will hand him over to Malian authorities, and he will likely then be expelled to France.
Le Guen won’t receive a warm welcome in his home country: The French defense minister, who described him as a "loser who became a terrorist," said an investigation was underway to determine what criminal charges could be brought against him.
Above, a video message that Le Guen recorded in support of al Qaeda’s goals in North Africa, released on Oct. 9.