Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi

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Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi (also known as Abu Tourab) was a member of Ansar Dine, a Tuareg Islamist militia in North Africa. Al-Mahdi pleaded guilty in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2016 for the war crime of attacking religious and historical buildings in the Malian city of Timbuktu. Al-Mahdi was the first person convicted by the ICC for such a crime. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.


Al-Mahdi was born approximately in 1975[1] in Agoune, Mali, which is 97 km west of Timbuktu.[2] In 2011, he was a civil servant in the Malian government.[3] He is an ethnic Tuareg and during the Northern Mali conflict, that began in 2012, he was a member of Ansar Dine. Al-Mahdi worked closely with the leaders of Ansar Dine and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, when the two groups controlled Timbuktu. Specifically, he enforced decisions of the Islamic Court of Timbuktu and from May to September 2012, he ran the "Manners' Brigade".[4]

ICC prosecution[edit]

The ICC opened a formal investigation on Mali on 16 January 2013 to investigate alleged crimes, that occurred since January 2012 in the context of an armed conflict in the north of the country.[5] The court issued an arrest warrant for al-Mahdi on 18 September 2015. The arrest warrant alleges, that from about 30 June 2012 to 10 July 2012 in Timbuktu, al-Mahdi committed the war crime of intentionally directing attacks against historical monuments or buildings dedicated to religion. The case against al-Mahdi represented the first time, the ICC had indicted an individual for the war crime of attacking religious buildings or historical monuments and it was the first case, before the ICC arising out of the situation in Mali.[4] The arrest warrant listed ten monuments in Timbuktu, at least one of which is a World Heritage Site, that al-Mahdi attacked:[4]

  1. Mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud Ben Omar Mohamed Aquit
  2. Mausoleum of Sheikh Mohamed Mahmoud al-Arawani
  3. Mausoleum of Sheikh Sidi el-Mokhtar Ben Sidi Muhammad Ben Sheikh Alkabir
  4. Mausoleum of Alfa Moya
  5. Mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud Ben Amar
  6. Mausoleum of Sheikh Muhammad El Micky
  7. Mausoleum of Cheick Abdoul Kassim Attouaty
  8. Mausoleum of Ahamed Fulane
  9. Mausoleum of Bahaber Babadié
  10. Sidi Yahya Mosque

On 26 September 2015, al-Mahdi was surrendered to the court by the government of Niger and transferred to the court's detention center in The Hague, Netherlands.[4]

Al-Mahdi's trial began on 22 August 2016 and he pleaded guilty to the charges of destroying nine mausoleums and a mosque.[6][2] As the first person to plead guilty to a charge of the ICC, al-Mahdi made a statement, expressing remorse and advising others, not to commit similar acts.[7]

On 27 September 2016, al-Mahdi was sentenced to nine years in prison for the destruction of the cultural world heritage in the Malian city of Timbuktu.[2]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Nine Years for the Cultural Destruction of Timbuktu". The Atlantic. 27 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi: The vandal of Timbuktu, BBC News (September 27, 2016).
  3. ^ "AHMAD AL-FAQI AL-MAHDI". Trial International. 27 September 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d "Situation in Mali: Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi surrendered to the ICC on charges of war crimes regarding the destruction of historical and religious monuments in Timbuktu". International Criminal Court. 2015-09-26. Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  5. ^ "ICC Prosecutor opens investigation into war crimes in Mali: "The legal requirements have been met. We will investigate"". International Criminal Court. 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  6. ^ "Case Information Sheet: Situation in the Republic of Mali, The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi" Archived 2016-08-03 at the Wayback Machine., icc-cpi.int, June 2016.
  7. ^ Calamur, Krishnadev (2016-08-22). "Repenting for the Cultural Destruction of Timbuktu". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2016-08-22.