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Tinariwen was founded by Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, who at age 4 witnessed the execution of his father (a Tuareg rebel) during a 1963 uprising in Mali. As a child he saw a western film in which a cowboy played a guitar. Ag Alhabib built his own guitar out of a tin can, a stick and bicycle brake wire. He started to play old Tuareg and modern Arabic pop tunes. Ag Alhabib first lived in refugee camps and later resided with other Tuareg exiles in Libya and Algeria.