An alleged Islamic extremist charged with involvement in the destruction of religious buildings in the historic city of Timbuktu in Mali in 2012 has been arrested and sent to the International Criminal Court to face justice.

Ahmad Al Mahdi Al Faqi, known as Abu Tourab, is the first suspect in the court's custody charged with the war crime of destroying religious or historical monuments.

The court announced in the early hours of Saturday that Al Faqi was surrendered to the court by Niger and transferred to The Hague.

The court says he was a member of Ansar Dine, an Islamic extremist group with links to al-Qaida that ruled across northern Mali in 2012.

He is charged in the destruction of 10 historic buildings including mausoleums and a mosque in Timbuktu.