Rebels, extremists, fighters, radicals, separatists all fight for a cause and use violence and destruction to achieve their objectives.
In Timbuktu, Mali, on the 6th of May 2012, some fighters entered the medieval town and "destroy a saint's tomb" setting it on fire, (according to a BBC report: link)
Timbuktu is the location of three great mosques dating back to the 14th century as well as 16 cemeteries ans mausoleums. The town was founded on gold and salt trade and reached its apogee in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was an intellectual and spiritual center with its Sankore university and other madrasas.
Destroying world heritage architecture is a way to erase the past and its memory. Do the destructors have a new way of life with new roots and new beliefs to implement in replacement?
(link to the Unesco site)