Two tombs at the ancient Djinguereber mosque in Timbuktu, Mali, were damaged in an attack by Islamist extremists in 2012. Photo: Joe Penney/Reuters

International Criminal Court Fines Militant $3.2 Million for Destruction of Cultural Heritage

The International Criminal Court ruled on Thursday, August 17, that Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, a member of a jihadist group linked to Al Qaeda, must pay $3.2 million in damages for destroying ancient shrines and damaging a mosque in Timbuktu, Marlise Simons of the New York Times reports.

Al-Mahdi was arrested in Niger in 2013 after French-led military troops recaptured Timbuktu. In 2016, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years in prison in a landmark ruling. The trial marked the first time that The Hague treated the destruction of cultural property as a war crime.

Since Mahdi is penniless, the judges asked the court’s Trust Fund for Victims to pay the actual reparations, declaring that the funds will cover structural damages, economic losses suffered by the local residents, and possibly a memorial or community program.