Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi looks on during an appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, on Aug. 22, at the start of his trial on charges of involvement in the destruction of historic mausoleums in the Malian desert city of Timbuktu. Mahdi pleaded guilty. Patrick Post/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Patrick Post/AFP/Getty Images

Ahmad Faqi al-Mahdi in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in the Hague last September. Mahdi pleaded guilty to war crimes over the deliberate destruction of buildings at a UNESCO-listed desert heritage site in Mali in 2012. ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images

Handout picture dated 1997 and released in 2012 by the UN shows ancient manuscripts displayed at the library in the city of Timbuktu. Al-Qaeda has destroyed ancient texts it considers idolatrous. Evan Schneider/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Evan Schneider/AFP/Getty Images

Timbuktu's 'Badass Librarians': Checking Out Books Under Al-Qaida's Nose

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French and Malian soldiers patrol next to the Djingareyber Mosque in Timbuktu in 2015. Several of the city's historic and cultural sites were demolished in 2012, during an occupation by Islamist militants. Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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In this image from a video, an Islamist militant celebrates after the destruction of a Sufi shrine earlier this month in Timbuktu. AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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AFP/Getty Images

Renee Montagne speaks with Corinne Dufka

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