Rebels in Mali destroy Timbuktu monuments

Updated 24 December 2012
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Rebels in Mali destroy Timbuktu monuments

BAMAKO, Mali: A tourism official says that militants destroyed four mausoleums in Timbuktu yesterday.
The director of Mali's Timbuktu tourism office, Sane Chirfi, said that Ansar Dine rebels linked to Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) tore down the mausoleums, which were historic but not included on the United Nations list of World Heritage sites. The mausoleums housed the remains of Muslim scholars and teachers who are revered by the Timbuktu population.
Since taking control of Timbuktu earlier this year, the militants have destroyed seven of the 16 mausoleums listed as world heritage sites. Some date back to the 14th century.
According to many residents, the destruction of the graves is the rebels' reaction to the recent UN resolution calling for an international military intervention to remove the rebels from northern Mali.
Meanwhile, militants in northern Mali said Saturday they have carried out fresh amputations and warned of more to come, just days after the UN approved plans for an African-led military intervention force to take back the region.
The amputations were seen as a sign the armed rebel groups which seized the north of the west African state earlier this year are unfazed by the green-light for the operation, which planners say cannot be launched before September next year.
"We cut off the hands of two people on Friday. Eight others will soon share the same fate," said Moctar Barry, a leader of the rebel group, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), controlling the northern city of Gao.
His claims were confirmed by witnesses, with one resident saying the amputees had committed theft.
"I saw one of them, they gave him an injection before the amputation. He cried out. Both amputees are now at the hospital," another resident told AFP.
Gao lawmaker Abdou Sidibe blamed the amputations on "the international community's laxness," saying its indecision over whether to intervene to reconquer Mali's north were making the rebels feel invincible.
"The international community needs to know that it is its hesitation over intervening, or no, in northern Mali that is encouraging the rebels to show they are at home and are not afraid of anything," Sidibe said.
The amputations took place a day after the Security Council approved plans for the African-led 3,300 troop intervention but vowed to work toward a peaceful solution for the Mali crisis.
Al-Qaeda linked groups and other militants have been controlling regions in northern Mali for months, in a conflict that has so far displaced more than 400,000 people, according to the UN.

Algeria, a military power player in the Sahel, has called for a political solution to the Mali crisis, a position also backed by the United Nations.
On Friday, the 15-member Security Council insisted that military force could only be used after political efforts have been exhausted.
FROM: AGENCIES


More than 70 countries commit to combat terror financing

Updated 52 min 50 sec ago
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More than 70 countries commit to combat terror financing

  • Participants at an international conference in Paris agreed to “fully criminalize” terror financing
  • The two-day event was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron

PARIS: More than 70 countries committed Thursday to bolster efforts in the fight against terrorism financing associated with Daesh and Al-Qaeda.
Participants at an international conference in Paris agreed to “fully criminalize” terror financing through effective and proportionate sanctions “even in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act.”
The two-day event was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron to coordinate efforts to reduce the terror threat in the long-term.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Abdel Al-Jubeir and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani were all present.
Macron, who has returned to France from a state visit to the United States, is expected to close the conference later with a call for the necessity for multilateral action.
Daniel Lewis, executive secretary of the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force, said he is hoping that words will be put into action.
“When we have information — for example the UN list of individuals and entities financing terrorism — we need to make sure measures like asset freezing are implemented fully and quickly,” Lewis told The Associated Press.
Participants called for better information-sharing between intelligence services, law enforcement, financial businesses and the technology industry. They also agreed to improve the traceability of funds going to non-governmental organizations and charity associations.
Participants included countries that have accused each other of funding terrorism, notably in the Arabian Gulf.
France has pushed for international coordination and more transparency in financial transactions. But it has recognized how sensitive the issue is, and saw the conference as a first step for coordinated action.
The French organizers noted that Daesh military defeats on the ground have not prevented the group from pursuing its terrorist activities, along with Al-Qaeda — especially in unstable regions of Afghanistan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Yemen, Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa.
Terror groups don’t only rely on the cash economy — they’re using increasingly hard-to-track tools like prepaid cards, online wallets and crowdfunding operations.
Daesh has also invested in businesses and real estate to ensure its financing. Daesh revenues alone were estimated at $2.5 billion between 2014 and 2016, according to the French president’s office.
Though most of the attacks in Western countries do not cost a lot of money, a French official said terror groups “behave like big organizations” in that it “costs a lot to recruit, train, equip people and spread propaganda.” The official was speaking anonymously under the presidency’s customary practice.
The French counterterrorism prosecutor Francois Molins told FranceInfo radio that Daesh uses micro-financing techniques to collect a great number of small amounts of money.
Work with the financial intelligence unit helped identify 416 people in France who have donated money to Daesh over the last two years, he said.
Money, he said, went to “320 collectors mostly based in Turkey and Lebanon from whom jihadis in Iraq and Syria could receive funds.”
In recent years, the US and other Western nations have encouraged Middle Eastern nations to close off such sources.
However, allegations over extremist funding in part sparked a near-yearlong boycott of Qatar by four Arab states.
Qatar denies funding extremists, though it has faced Western criticism about being lax in enforcing rules.
Participants agreed to hold a similar conference next year in Australia.