French and Mali officials confirmed Friday that 24-year-old Ibrahim Ouattara was taken into custody there this week and charged in France with trying to reach radicals fighting in another country.
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb is among three extremist groups controlling northern Mali. It's made up mainly of foreign fighters. Radical Islamists moved into the region after a military coup in March overthrew Mali's president.
Outtara is the first French citizen arrested in Mali, but France, Mali's former colonial ruler, is concerned it could itself become a target of battle-hardened returning fighters.
A judicial official said on condition of anonymity that Ouattara holds French and Malian nationality.