Alleged Islamic Extremist Surrendered to the ICC for the Destruction of Historical Monuments

Tumbuktu Mausoleum Ruins

The ruins of the mausoleum of Alfa Moya in a cemetery in Timbuktu ©AFP

Today, Mr Ahmad Al Mahdi Al Faqi was surrendered to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the authorities of Niger and arrived at the Court’s Detention Centre in the Netherlands.

Mr Al Faqi is an alleged Islamic extremist charged of war crimes through his involvement in the intentional destruction of religious buildings in the city of Timbuktu in Mali between about 30 June 2012 and 10 July 2012.

Mr Al Faqi is charged in the destruction of 10 historic buildings including mausoleums and a mosque in Timbuktu.

In 2012, Tumbuktu would have been under the control of armed groups, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (“AQIM”) and Ansar Eddine, a mainly Tuareg movement associated with AQIM.

The Prosecution alleges that Al Faqi was linked to the Islamic court of Timbuktu and participated in carrying out its orders. Specifically, it is alleged that he was involved in the destruction of the buildings mentioned in the charges.

In a statement issued today, the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said that “Intentional attacks against historic monuments and buildings dedicated to religion are serious crimes under the Rome Statute […] No longer should such reprehensible conduct go unpunished. It is rightly said that “cultural heritage is the mirror of humanity.” Such attacks affect humanity as a whole. We must stand up to the destruction and defacing of our common heritage.”

This is the ICC first case concerning the destruction of buildings dedicated to religion and historical monuments.

Mali’s government asked the Court in 2012 to investigate crimes committed on its territory. Prosecutors opened an investigation in 2013. Mr Al Faqi is the first suspect detained.