Ji­hadist pleads guilty to Tim­buktu at­tacks

The Myanmar Times - - World -

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. –

Photo: AFP

Ah­mad al-Faqi al-Mahdi is ac­cused of plun­der­ing an­cient arte­facts.

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