On September 26, 2015, authorities in Niger surrendered Ahmad Al Mahdi Al Faqi (also known as Abu Tourab) to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Al Faqi, currently being held at the ICC detention center, is suspected of the war crime of intentionally directing attacks against religious and historical monuments in Timbuktu, Mali. This is the first time the ICC has tried an individual for these crimes.
The ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber I issued an arrest warrant for Al Faqi on September 18, 2015 for crimes allegedly committed in the first two weeks of July 2012. PTC judges found that there were reasonable grounds to believe that in July 2012 there was a non-international armed conflict and that Timbuktu was under the control of two armed groups—Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Ansar Eddine, a primiarly Tuareg group associated with AQIM.
Al Faqi, who is from the Ansar Tuareg tribe, was a member of Ansar Eddine and was allegedly actively involved in the occupation of Timbuktu. He purportedly worked closely with the leaders of the two armed groups and was involved in the destruction of religious buildings and historical monuments. These include: 1) the mausoleum Sidi Mahmoud Ben Omar Mohamed Aquit, 2) the mausoleum Sheikh Mohamed Mahmoud Al Arawani, 3) the mausoleum Sheikh Sidi Mokhtar Ben Sidi Muhammad Ben Sheikh Alkabir, 4) the mausoleum Alpha Moya, 5) the mausoleum Sheikh Sidi Ahmed Ben Amar Arragadi, 6) the mausoleum Sheikh Muhammad El Micky, 7) the mausoleum Cheick Abdoul Kassim Attouaty, 8) the mausoleum Ahamed Fulane, 9) the mausoleum Bahaber Babadié, and 10) the Sidi Yahia mosque.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened an investigation into war crimes in Mali in June 2013 after the situation had been under preliminary examination for about a year. In addition to the crimes charged against Al Faqi, she is also investigating the war crimes of: (i) murder; (ii) mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture; (iii) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court; (iv) pillaging; and (v) rape.