Daily Israel Report

Canadian Citizen Convicted Over Terrorism Charges

Mohammed Hersi, 28, arrested for attempting to join Al Qaeda group in Somalia; may face long prison sentence.
By Dalit Halevi
First Publish: 6/1/2014, 5:51 PM / Last Update: 6/1/2014, 6:02 PM

Al Shabab Terrorists
Al Shabab Terrorists
Reuters

A jury at Ontario's Brampton Court convicted Canadian citizen Mohammed Hersi, a 28 year-old Toronto resident, of violating the law prohibiting Canadian citizens to leave areas of the country to join terrorist organizations and soliciting another person to commit terrorism, Shalom Toronto reported Saturday.  

Hersi, a graduate of the University of Toronto, was arrested in March 2011 at Toronto Pearson airport as he was about to fly to London on his way to Cairo carrying a one-way ticket. Hersi's real destination, however, was Somalia - where he was asked to join the ranks of Al-Shabab, an organization ideologically affiliated with Al Qaeda. The group was responsible for the deadly Westgate Mall massacre in Nairobi last September.

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.

A secret agent of East African origin became a close friend of Hersi's, who was then working as a security guard. The two prayed together at the Salah Al-Din mosque in Scarborough and discussed Al Qaeda's English-language publications.

Hersi told the secret agent that he knew a Canadian citizen of Somali origin, Elam Ibrahim Mohammed, who was killed in Somalia in 2011 in the midst of jihad-related activities; Mohammed was presumably one of his contacts.  

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.

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.

Following his conviction, Hersi may face up to ten years in prison. 

At least two other Canadian citizens are presumed to have been killed fighting with Al-Shabab in Somalia, amidst general concerns about Canadian and other Western Muslims fleeing Canada to join Islamist holy wars in Africa and the Middle East - particularly Syria.