Ahmad, a former teacher, pled guilty and expressed remorse for his role in overseeing the destruction of nine mausoleums and a mosque door by ax-wielding rebels in June and July of 2012.
His trial began this August and was a landmark for the International Criminal Court since its establishment in 2002 and the first conviction for destruction of religious buildings and historic monuments. It was the first guilty verdict delivered against a Muslim extremist.
Al Qaeda-linked rebels occupied Saharan city of Timbuktu in 2012 and enforced a literal interpretation of sharia law which included destruction of idols, or in this case, the mud-brick tombs they considered idolatrous. Al Mahdi (his friends call him "Mad Al") was the leader of one of the "morality brigades" (which is perhaps the sickest oxymoron ever) set up by the new rulers of Timbuktu.
Wearing a plain gray suit and striped purple tie (the color most preferred by schizophrenics) Ahmad remained silent after the verdict and sentencing was given. Earlier in the trial, the Islamist urged Muslims around the world not to do what he had done. This is what Islam refers to as taqiyya, or lying for the promotion of Islam. He said of these acts that "They are not going to lead to any good for humanity."
Al Mahdi faced up to 30 years in prison for destroying the World Heritage-listed sites, but the presiding judge Raul Pangalangan bought into the taqiyya bull and claimed that many factors argued for a lesser sentence, such as Mahdi's apparently sincere admission of guilt.
I wonder how Raul would feel if Al Mahdi planned to live next door to him after he's free. Kind of like how Obama would feel if he had to live next door to illegal immigrants, I bet.