Ansar al-Din surrendered to Mauritanian forces on Saturday (May 18th), near the Mali border.
Sanda Ould Bouamama (aka Abou Mohamed) "was transferred at the week-end to Nouakchott, where he is currently being questioned by the police", ANI reported.
Last month, Ould Bouamama told ANI that he was close to the border between Mali and Algeria and was going to surrender to Algerian authorities.
"This surrender had been expected for several weeks because the Ansar al-Din spokesman had expressed a desire to surrender to Algerian forces on April 17th and had implored the Mauritanian president to request his extradition so that he could stand trial in Mauritania," terrorism expert Sidati Ould Cheikh said.
"Since the beginning of the French intervention in Mali, it has been a case of every man for himself within terrorist groups," he added.
On April 19th, El Watan reported that three Ansar al-Din leaders were in Algeria.
The refugee "emirs" were identified as Wathik (aka Abderrahman Gouli), Abou Abida (aka Mourabiti Ben Moula) and Athman Ag Houdi, Ansar al-Din chief Iyad Ag Ghaly's cousin.
Although Algeria denied rumours that Ansar al-Din leaders intended to seek refuge in the country, El Watan underlined that other members of this small group could surrender.
"Algeria is loyal to its principles with regard to its foreign policy, based on respect for legitimacy," Algerian foreign ministry spokesperson Amar Belani told APS on April 21st.
"It will continue contributing in order to achieve peace and security in the region and particularly in Mali by working closely based on international legitimacy," Belani said.
"Ould Bouamama's surrender follows intervention by senior members of his tribe, the Barabiches, who negotiated with Mauritanian authorities for almost a month," explained journalist Jidou Ould Sidi.
The delegation of tribal senior members "accompanied a special Mauritanian task force to a locality in Mali, about 30 kilometres from the Mauritanian border", he added. "There, Ould Bouamama laid down his weapon, abandoned his vehicle and mobile phones and gave himself up without a fight."
He was taken to Bassiknou and was then transferred to Nouakchott aboard a military aircraft, according to Ould Sidi. "All signs are that Sanda will be very co-operative with the investigators," he noted. "The Mauritanians have a real mine of information on their hands."
Ould Boumama is from the city of Bassiknou, Mauritania, where his family and business are located. He studied at the University of Nouakchott.
He was known for his intransigence.
"The enforcement of Sharia is a divine obligation for any Muslim," Ould Bouamama told French daily Sud-Ouest last August. "If that shocks some people, we don't care."
"We are already an Islamic emirate, and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan is our model," he added at the time.
By Bakari Gueye in Nouakchott for Magharebia – 21/05/2013