ICC Sentences Malian Jihadist Leader to 9 Years in Prison

Mark Babatunde September 28, 2016
The ICC's sentencing of Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi makes him the first person to be convicted for war crimes related to the destruction of world heritage sites. Photo Credit: Yahoo

The International Criminal Court (ICC) sentenced Malian Islamic terrorist Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi to nine years in prison Tuesday for his role in the destruction of ancient monuments in the city of Timbuktu, after the Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali in 2012.

The BBC reports that al-Mahdi of the Tuareg tribe of northern Mali led the desecration of a number of ancient mausoleums four years ago, when al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine took control of northern Mali.

In 2012, when Tuareg fighters seized parts of northern Mali, including the historic and internationally renowned Timbuktu, the area was quickly overrun by Ansar Dine.

Mali maintains close ties with France, its former colonial ruler, and French forces would later intervene, chasing out the Islamist fighters in 2013.

Al-Mahdi was the head of Ansar Dine’s Hisbah brigade, an Islamist moral police force, and he commissioned the destruction of ancient cultural monuments in the city of Timbuktu because he believed they were places of idolatry.

He led the destruction of the revered shrine of Sidi Ahmed ar-Raqqad, a 17-century doctor and writer who many believe had potent healing powers.

Al-Mahdi also led the destruction of the mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud and the ancient mosque of Sidi Yahia generally considered as the patron saint of Timbuktu.

Hague court judges found al-Mahdi guilty of the war crime of attacking and destroying ancient monuments listed under the UNESCO-protected World Heritage sites

While delivering his ruling, Raul Pangalangan, the presiding judge, said al-Mahdi was responsible for the attacks of 10 world heritage sites (9 shrines and a mosque) in the town of Timbuktu.

The ICC ruling, which has been hailed by international rights group Human Rights Watch, makes al-Mahdi the first Islamist terrorist to be tried and convicted by the ICC for war crimes related to the destruction or damage of mankind’s cultural heritage.

Al-Mahdi, who pleaded guilty, faced up to 30 years in prison, but the ICC judges (three in all) showed leniency and instead sentenced him to nine years.

The judges say his show of remorse and empathy, cooperation with the prosecution, admission of guilt, and good behavior in custody earned him a lighter sentencing.

Last Edited by:Sandra Appiah Updated: June 19, 2018


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