Abdullah al-Senussi, a top official of the ousted Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi was arrested Friday night at the airport of Nouakchott, Mauritania, according to a Mauritanian security source. The former military intelligence chief is wanted by the International Criminal Court. France, like Libya, will seek his extradition.
He was arrested by Mauritanian security services when he arrived from Casablanca for a scheduled flight, the source said, adding he was traveling with "a forged Malian passport."
The intentions of the Mauritanian government are unclear, especially if he is to be handed over to the ICC.
The Libyan government has confirmed the arrest and said it would ask Mauritania for the extradition of al-Senussi. France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy hailed the arrest on Saturday and said that an extradition request would be made "in the coming hours." "Abdallah Senussi is indeed the subject of international arrest warrant following his conviction in absentia to life imprisonment in the case of the terrorist attack of September 19, 1989 against UTA flight 772, which killed 170 people, including 54 French" citizens, said Sarkozy.
Al-Senussi, aged 62, was among the inner circle surrounding Gaddafi.
Security sources in Niger and Mali said in October 2011 that Abdullah al-Senussi had disappeared since the fall of Tripoli, in August 2011. He likely left to Niger and Mali.