This West African city—long synonymous with the uttermost end of the Earth—was added to the World Heritage List in 1988, many centuries after its apex.Timbuktu was a center of Islamic scholarship under several African empires, home to a 25,000-student university and other madrasahs that served as wellsprings for the spread of Islam throughout Africa from the 13th to 16th centuries. Sacred Muslim texts, in bound editions, were carried great distances to Timbuktu for the use of eminent scholars from Cairo, Baghdad, Persia, and elsewhere who were in residence at the city. The great teachings of Islam, from astronomy and mathematics to medicine and law, were collected and produced here in several hundred thousand manuscripts. Many of them remain, though in precarious condition, to form a priceless written record of African history. Read more here.
A Malian jihadist was arrested Saturday and handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face war crimes charges for the destruction of Timbuktu and sex slavery, the tribunal said.
Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud was detained by the Malian authorities and has now arrived at the tribunal’s detention centre in The Hague, the court said in a late-night statement.
The 40-year-old is alleged to have been a member of the Al-Qaeda linked Ansar Dine and the de facto chief of the Islamic police from April 2012 to January 2013.
He faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for the destruction of the holy shrines of Timbuktu between 2012-2013 as well as accusations of rape and forced marriage.
Hassan allegedly “participated in the policy of forced marriages which victimised the female inhabitants of Timbuktu and led to repeated rapes and the sexual enslavement of women and girls,” the court said in a statement.
The shrines of Muslim saints in Timbuktu in northern Mali are widely believed to protect the fabled city from danger, but were largely destroyed by radical Islamists in 2012.
Five years after their destruction the Timbuktu mausoleums have been restored through work carried out by local craftsmen, with help from the UN’s cultural arm UNESCO.
On Thursday the International Criminal Court in The Hague ruled that Malian militant Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi caused 2.7 million euros in damages when he destroyed some of the mausoleums and ordered the payment of compensation to victims.
Mahdi, of the Tuareg people, was jailed for nine years by the court in a landmark verdict in September 2016 after he pleaded guilty to directing attacks on the UNESCO World Heritage site.
Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi was a member of the al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine group
In 2012, he led axe-wielding Islamists who wrecked Timbuktu’s ancient buildings
Now the International Criminal Court has ruled he must pay £2.5m reparations
He was jailed for 9 years in a previous hearing, after apologising for his actions
An Islamic extremist found guilty of a war crime for destroying World Heritage sites in Timbuktu has been told he must pay £2.5million in reparations.
The International Criminal Court in the Netherlands today ruled that Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, a onetime member of the al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine group, must pay for damage to the buildings, economic losses and moral harm to victims.
Al Mahdi had intentionally directed attacks against nine saints’ mausoleums and a mosque door in 2012.
War crimes judges will Thursday hand down a landmark ruling on reparations for the razing of Timbuktu’s fabled shrines, but the victims’ fund which is to implement the order warned it will not be easy.
Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi was jailed for nine years in 2016 after he pleaded guilty to directing attacks on the UNESCO world heritage site during the jihadist takeover of northern Mali in 2012.
Judges ruled last September that Mahdi “supervised the destruction and gave instructions to the attackers” who used pickaxes and bulldozers to hack apart some of the city’s most ancient landmarks.
Last month the judges announced they will hand down a decision on compensation for victims who suffered from the destruction of the ancient city’s centuries-old shrines and mausoleums.
Earth is home to incredibly beautiful natural sites. But because of climate change and human carelessness, some of them are in danger of disappearing in the next 100 years — or even sooner.
From Patagonia’s glaciers to Africa’s Congo Basin, these threatened natural wonders span the globe.
Keep scrolling to see where you should visit sooner rather than later.
A popular destination for honeymooners or paradise-seekers, the islands of the Seychelles — located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar — are vanishing because of beach erosion. They’re in danger of completely disappearing in the next 50 to 100 years.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
The picturesque snow that tops Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania may not be there much longer. Between the years of 1912 and 2007, Kilimanjaro’s ice sheet shrank by a whopping 85%.
The Mirador Basin and Tikal National Park, Guatemala
The first prosecution at the International Criminal Court for destroying cultural heritage has led some to wonder if trying war crimes against people should take precedence. Is this criticism justified?
On 27 September 2016, the International Criminal Court, or ICC, convicted Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi of intentionally directing attacks against religious and historic buildings in Timbuktu, Mali during the 2012 occupation by Ansar Dine and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. As a leader of the Hisbah, or the Manners Brigade, Al Mahdi ordered attacks on mosques and shrines with pickaxes, chisels, and heavy machinery. His actions were a war crime under the Rome Statute – the international law establishing the ICC – and his conviction was never in real doubt. Al Mahdi confessed at his August trial, accepting his guilt and seeking forgiveness.
Kristin Hausler, a research fellow at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, comments on the ICC’s recent ruling on a case involving the destruction of cultural heritage in Mali.
On 27 September, Trial Chamber VIII of the International Criminal Court (ICC) sentenced Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi to nine years in prison for having intentionally directed attacks against nine mausoleums and a mosque in Timbuktu, most of which were listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
These attacks, which took place over a period of ten days in late June and early July 2012, had been immediately condemned by the United Nations Security Council in its resolution 2056 of 5 July 2012. A week later, Mali referred its situation to the ICC, which opened an investigation and eventually issued an arrest warrant for Mr Al Mahdi, who was surrendered to the Court by the authorities of Niger on 26 September 2015.
Safeguarding cultural property that combatants aim to damage encompasses part of larger endeavours to defend human rights and universal values, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, calling on the international community to intensify efforts to protect such treasures and end their illicit trafficking.
“Combatants that attack cultural treasures want to damage more than artefacts – they aim to tear at the fabric of societies,” the UN chief said in remarks presented by Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at a high-level event entitled “Protecting Cultural Heritage – an Imperative for Humanity: Acting together against the destruction and trafficking of cultural property by terrorist groups and organized crime.”
“And protection is about more than shielding stones and buildings – it is a part of our effort to defend human rights and save people’s lives,” he added.
Authorities in Mali on Monday reopened the Sidi Yahya Mosque in the ancient city-state of Timbuktu. It was destroyed in 2012 by the al-Qaeda linked Ansar Dine jihadists. The jihadists also destroyed the “secret door” of the 15th century mosque in the fabled caravan city.
The news agency AFP reported that around 100 Malian political and religious leaders, diplomats and representatives from the world heritage body UNESCO gathered for the ceremony.
“This is a very important day,” said the mosque’s imam, Alphadi Wandara. “Since (the days) of our forefathers, for centuries the door has been like that: closed.”
The sacred gate of the mosque of Sidi Yahia in Timbuktu, which bears testimony to cultural traditions dating back to the 15th century CE, was officially reinstalled on 19 September in a ceremony organized by the inhabitants of the World Heritage site.
The gate, regarded as sacred, had been pulled out and damaged on 2 July 2012 by armed extremists who occupied the city. The restoration and reinstallation of this ancient protective symbol of the city was carried out by local wood workers with the support of UNESCO.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, welcomed the event stressing the importance of heritage protection for the resilience of communities. “The reinstallation of the sacred gate, a religious and cultural landmark of Timbuktu, marks a new and decisive step in Mali’s reconstruction and peace building work.”
Scholars in the fabled African city, once a great center of learning and trade, are racing to save a still emerging cache of ancient manuscripts.
White robe fluttering in the desert breeze, Moctar Sidi Yayia al-Wangari leads me down a sandy alley past donkeys, idle men and knapsack-toting children rushing off to school. It is a bright morning, my second in Timbuktu, in the geographic center of Mali, and al-Wangari is taking me to see the project that has consumed him for the past three years. We duck through a Moorish-style archway and enter his home, a two-story stone structure built around a concrete courtyard. With an iron key, he unlocks the door to a storage room. Filigrees of light stream through a filthy window. The air inside is stale, redolent of mildew and earth.