Ahmad Al-Faqi al-Mahdi, Islamic enforcer of Timbuktu

Ahmad Al-Faqi Al-Mahdi, whose war crime trial in The Hague opens on Monday, is a quiet Koranic scholar turned ruthless enforcer for jihadists when they occupied the fabled Malian city of Timbuktu.

Born around 40 years ago in Agoune, 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Timbuktu, the curly-haired former teacher was steeped in Islamic learning from a young age.

He fast became a fervent proponent of the strictest interpretations of Islamic law, which had little popular support in Mali, but his chance came when jihadists descended on Timbuktu in April 2012.