WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement on the International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to charge Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi for 2012 acts of cultural property destruction in Timbuktu:


“The ICC is doing the right thing by charging Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi for acts of cultural destruction.  Al Mahdi is accused of destroying nine mausoleums and a mosque in Timbuktu during the violent extremist takeover of northern Mali in 2012.  Tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts – treasured pieces of our common cultural heritage – were also burned. I hope this watershed decision sets a precedent of holding accountable those who destroy treasured pieces of history.  This move is especially important at a time when we are seeing vast looting and destruction of cultural property at the hands of ISIS and other terrorist and criminal organizations across North Africa and the Middle East.
“The United States should lead the way fighting the destruction of cultural heritage.  I encourage the Senate to act on my legislation, HR1493 or the Preserve and Protect Cultural Heritage Act, to improve American efforts to protect international cultural property and cut off a critical funding source for ISIS – which the terrorists them use to brutalize and murder civilians.  We must do all we can to save world history from the destructive efforts of tyrants like Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, terrorists like ISIS, and other heinous actors around the world.”