We reported earlier about the war crimes trial of Islamist militant Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, who has confessed at the International Criminal Court that he took part in the destruction of historical shrines in northern Mali’s Timbuktu city in 2012.
Court documents describe Mahdi as a religious scholar who directed fighters to wreck several sites with pickaxes and chisels after failing to deter locals from praying at them.
He was charged with war crimes over the destruction of nine mausoleums and a mosque.
Militants regard the shrines as idolatrous, but today Mahdi told the court:
I would like to give a piece of advice to all Muslims in the world, not to get involved in the same acts I got involved in, because they are not going to lead to any good for humanity.”
Mahdi was loyal to Ansar Dine, an extremist militia with roots in the nomadic Tuareg people and with ties to al-Qaeda. It was eventually driven out of Mali in a French-led intervention.