One Frenchman in Mali has flaunted his radical Islamist cause to French authorities. Gilles Le Guen, a former merchant marine from Brittany, has lived in Timbuktu for two years, a convert to the radical cause. In a video released online in October, Le Guen, wearing a black turban and assault rifle at his side, threatened President Francois Hollande and warned against a French military intervention.
"I am following the road traced by Osama bin Laden," he said in a telephone interview with the French newsmagazine L'Express in January, days before the French intervention began.
Valls noted that France must cope with potential radicals on two fronts: Mali and Syria, where a civil war has attracted jihadists. Dutch police arrested three Muslim men in November in Rotterdam because they wanted to go to Syria to take part in the jihad, prosecutors said at the time. Norwegian, Swedish and Danish security services are among countries that have expressed concern over citizens joining the uprising in Syria.
The French interior minister said several dozen French citizens or residents have gone to Syria, often joining groups controlled by al-Qaida.
Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.
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