Jihadist pleads guilty to destroying ancient Timbuktu artifacts

Updated 1:19 PM EDT, Mon August 22, 2016
A still from a video shows Islamist militants destroying an ancient shrine in Timbuktu on July 1, 2012. Islamist rebels in northern Mali smashed four more tombs of ancient Muslim saints in Timbuktu on July 1 as the International Criminal Court warned their campaign of destruction was a war crime.  The hardline Islamists who seized control of Timbuktu along with the rest of northern Mali three months ago, consider the shrines to be idolatrous and have wrecked seven tombs in two days.    AFP PHOTO / AFP / STR        (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
STR/AFP/Getty Images
A still from a video shows Islamist militants destroying an ancient shrine in Timbuktu on July 1, 2012. Islamist rebels in northern Mali smashed four more tombs of ancient Muslim saints in Timbuktu on July 1 as the International Criminal Court warned their campaign of destruction was a war crime. The hardline Islamists who seized control of Timbuktu along with the rest of northern Mali three months ago, consider the shrines to be idolatrous and have wrecked seven tombs in two days. AFP PHOTO / AFP / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
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Story highlights

In a first, International Criminal Court lists destroying cultural artifacts as a war crime

The city of Timbuktu in Mali is a UNESCO World Heritage site founded in fifth century

(CNN) —  

In a historic first, the International Criminal Court has classified destroying cultural artifacts as a war crime.

It follows the trial of jihadist Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, who pleaded guilty Monday to destroying religious monuments in the ancient city of Timbuktu in Mali.