• The International Criminal Court in Hague has sentenced jihadist Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi to nine years in prison.
  • The reason: he attacked the World Heritage Site in Timbuktu (Mali), located to the south of the Sahara Desert.
  • The shocking fact: 90% of the 17 million inhabitants of Mali are Muslims themselves, but are more liberal than the jihadist militant groups, who want to enforce a strict Sharia law!

Judge Raul Pangalangan explained that the chamber had “unanimously decided” to convict Al Mahdi of a war crime. This is because, destroying cultural and heritage sites is considered a war crime under the international law.

During the summer of 2012, al-Qaeda supported jihadist group Ansar Dine attacked Timbuktu in West African nation Mali, deliberately destroying medieval shrines and a mosque.

They attacked the Timbuktu structure as it was cultural tribute to “333 saints,” and is against the Islamic tenet of false worship of saints.

The militant group Ansar Dine wanted to cruelly enforce the Islamic Sharia law, which was the reason for this violence.

The prosecution video clearly shows Al Mahdi battering the mud-and-stone heritage structure with an ax.


Timbuktu preferred method of transport, Mali, W. Africa. Source: Emilio Labrador/flickr

Dating back to the 12th century, Timbuktu was a bustling centre for African trade for the 15th and 16th centuries. In fact, it housed various universities, madrassas and mosques by then.

It became an important meeting point for traders as well as Islamic scholars.

It was a popular tourist destination till about a decade ago.

However, jihadists including the Ansar Dine group terrorised the town, and briefly took over Timbuktu in 2012.

From 2013 onwards, French and Malian state troops began recapturing Timbuktu from the militants. During the scuffle, the jihadists destroyed several important heritage sites.

With the conviction of the attacker, Timbuktu has finally received some justice.

The destroyed Timbuktu sites are now being rebuilt, through special international funding.

It will soon recover its former glory.

Image credit: Marcus Quigmire/flickr and UN