Jihadist pleads guilty to Timbuktu attacks
A MALIAN jihadist yesterday confessed to ordering the 2012 attacks on the city of Timbuktu, becoming the first person to plead guilty at the world’s only permanent war crimes court.
“Your honour, regrettably I have to say that what I heard so far is accurate and reflects the events. I plead guilty,” Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi told the International Criminal Court in The Hague as the solo war crimes charge of cultural destruction was read to him.
Mr Mahdi, aged about 40, is also the first extremist charged by the ICC and the first person to face a solo allegation of cultural destruction.
The attacks on the ancient shrines by jihadists in 2012 triggered global outcry, and archaeologists hope the trial will send a stern warning that such plundering of our common heritage will not go unpunished.
Plucked from the edges of the Sahara to a courtroom in The Hague, the bespectacled Mahdi is accused of “intentionally directing attacks” against nine of Timbuktu’s famous mausoleums as well as the Sidi Yahia mosque between June 30 and July 11, 2012.
Founded between the fifth and the 12th centuries by Tuareg tribes, Timbuktu’s very name evokes centuries of history and has been dubbed “the city of 333 saints” for the number of Muslim sages buried there.
Revered as a centre of Islamic learning during its golden age in the 15th and 16th centuries and a designated UNESCO world heritage site, Timbuktu was, however, condemned as idolatrous by the jihadists. –
Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi is accused of plundering ancient artefacts.