French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Gilles Le Guen, also known as Abdel Jelil, was detained without resisting, Radio France Internationale reported Wednesday.
Le Drian said Le Guen, 58, has not yet been charged and that he will be questioned in Mali before being extradited to France.
Le Guen, a native of Nantes, lived with his family in Morocco and Mauritania before moving to Mali, where he joined al-Qaida in the Islamic Mahgreb, the report said.
In October, he appeared in a video warning France, the United States and the United Nations not to intervene in Mali against Islamists in the northern part of the country. France intervened in the Malian conflict in January.
A Malian official said Le Guen's "exact commitment to jihad still needs to be ascertained."
He was held prisoner by AQIM for several days in November, reportedly out of suspicion he was a spy or because he had attempted to stop Islamists from mistreating women.