A Canadian court held a trial Tuesday for Mohamed Hersi, a Somali-Canadian resident of Toronto, who was accused of trying to join the Al Qaeda-affiliated Somali terrorist group Al Shabab. The group was responsible for the deadly Westgate Mall massacre in Nairobi last September.
Hersi was arrested in 2011 at Toronto's Pearson airport while leaving Canada, reportedly to join the terror group, in the first case of a Canadian being arrested while on their way out of the country to take part in terrorist activities, according to the National Post.
Investigations of 28-year-old Hersi began in 2010, after dry cleaners discovered a SD card with instructions on how to make explosives in the pocket of clothes he brought in for cleaning. After the card was transferred to police, an undercover officer was assigned to Hersi, posing as a fellow terrorist hopeful.
Over the course of the years, the officer recorded numerous conversations with Hersi in which he expressed hatred towards the West, Canada, Christians, and "infidels" in general, reports Shalom Toronto.
Hersi claimed in the recordings that any rule, even that of a tyrant, would be preferable to the "police state" of Canada, in which non-Muslims "hate Islam," and Christians "don't understand what ethics are."
In one taped conversation, he confessed to avidly reading the Al Qaeda propaganda magazine Inspire, and noted that he particularly enjoyed an article attacking the West and giving permission to steal from non-Muslims.
"A silent assassin"
“I always picture (myself) as a type of, you know, like a silent assassin," said Hersi in one recorded conversation. "Some of those people deserve to, you know, get what they, what’s coming to them, you know. If you ever insult the prophet Allah, peace be upon him, you deserve a certain outcome, you know.”
It has also been revealed that Hersi's uncle was arrested in an attempt to blow up a mall in the state of Ohio, in the US, and that a friend of his, Mohammed Ilami Ibrahim, a former student at Toronto University, was killed in 2009 in Somalia while fighting for Al Shabab.
The Al Shahab connections come at a time when many Canadian citizens have gone to fight in Syria as jihadists. In January, Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS) presented a report noting the key danger of Canadians returning from fighting abroad with Al Qaeda-linked terror groups.
If these traveling Canadians "participate in a foreign conflict or train with a terrorist group, they might return with certain operational skills that can be deployed themselves or taught to fellow Canadian extremists. Either way, this is a serious security threat to Canada," notes the report.