After historic monuments were destroyed by Islamic terrorist organization Ansar Dine in 2012, more than a dozen of them have been rebuilt, according to the BBC, in Mali.
The year 2012 would mark the beginning of challenging times for the people of Mali, even though they had previously enjoyed years of stability and peace.
…Then-President Amadou Toumani Touré…announced…he would be stepping down — in accordance with the constitution — in time for the subsequent year’s presidential elections.
But that didn’t stop Malian soldiers who had helped bring down Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya from flooding in with their sophisticated weaponry and effectively routing Toure in March.
What most couldn’t anticipate further, though, was Ansar Dine’s strategic takeover of the rebels’ coup.
By April, Ansar Dine leader Iyad Ag Ghaly — who is reportedly the cousin of Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) commander Hamada Ag Hama — declared Sharia law in Timbuktu, forcing women to be veiled, the stoning of adulterers, and the mutilation of thieves.
These measures would soon be joined with the banning of video games, bars, Malian and Western music, and football.
By the end of June, correctly anticipating the destructive goals of the terrorist organization, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) immediately put the cultural heritage sites of the legendary city on the most-endangered list.
Days later, Ansar Dine would turn their full attention on these sites, attempting to destroy what was once the center of Islamic learning from the 13th to the 17th centuries and one of the chief reasons Islam spread across West Africa.
At one point, the “City of 333 Saints” had nearly 200 schools and universities, with students attending from all over the Muslim world.
Timbuktu’s first casualty at the hands of the militants was Independence Monument, featuring Al Forouk, the symbol of the city, on a horse. Its head was cut off (pictured).
Watch a video on Ansar Dine’s attack of Timbuktu’s historic monuments here:
Three years later, the stonemasons of the city — who work for UNESCO — have rebuilt 14 mausoleums using the traditional methods of their ancestors.
On Saturday, UNESCO’s Irina Bokova inaugurated the monuments and also announced that Ansar Dine’s actions are war crimes that will be brought to the attention of the International Criminal Court.
“UNESCO has involved the International Criminal Court with the destruction of the mausoleums,” Bokova said.
“Two months ago I met the prosecutor and I believe they are progressing rapidly, and I hope they will be ready to present the case to the ICC.”
Addressing the stonemasons, who took a year to reconstruct the buildings, Bokova said, “Your work is a lesson in tolerance, dialogue and peace… it is an answer to all extremists whose echo can be heard well beyond the borders of Mali.”