Updated: Canadian precedent: Toronto man convicted of trying to join terrorist group

Mohamed Hersi
Mohamed Hersi

Hersi was arrested at Toronto’s Pearson airport in March 2011 as he was about to leave for Cairo. The investigation began when a dry-cleaner found a USB memory stick in Hersi’s security guard uniform that contained a book on bomb-making. An undercover police officer befriended Hersi with the cover story of a fellow Somali-Canadian that wanted to join the terrorist group Al Shabab.

Mohamed Hersi is the first person in Canada to stand trial for attempting to join a foreign group classified as a terrorist organization. Hersi arrived in Canada as a four-year-old refugee with his mother after they fled the Somali civil war. As an adult he said his goal was to live in a Muslim country.

Hersi and the undercover officer’s conversations were recorded with the authorization of the courts.

In recordings played for the jury, Hersi also repeatedly gave the undercover officer advice about everything from how to concoct a cover story for his trip, to how much money to carry with him. Hersi told him to join a gym to get in shape, to pack light, and that he could make “connections” in Nairobi.

But his advice went beyond avoiding capture. Hersi gave the undercover officer a U.S. sniper training manual and a copy of [itals]The Anarchist Cookbook[enditals], and told him not to “burn any bridges in Canada” because Al-Shabab might send him back to “take care of” those who insulted the Muslim prophet Muhammad. National Post

Hersi was found guilty of attempting to join Al-Shabab, the terrorist group responsible for last year’s massacre at a Nairobi shopping mall. He was also found guilty of counseling another person to join Al-Shabab.  He faces up to 10 years in jail.

Online:  National Post Toronto man told undercover officer it was ‘God’s Will’ for him join terror-group Al-Shabab, trial hears
National Post Mohamed Hersi found guilty of trying to join Somali terrorist group Al-Shabab


“Non-violent Terrorism”?

A Toronto man convicted of attempting to join the Somali terrorist group Al Shabab should serve no more than four years in prison, his lawyer argued Wednesday, claiming his client had engaged only in “non-violent terrorism.”

But federal prosecutors are seeking the 10-year maximum sentence for Mohamed Hassan Hersi, a 28-year-old former security guard who last month became the first Canadian to be convicted for attempting unsuccessfully to join an overseas terrorist group.

“I don’t know what non-violent terrorism is,” Crown attorney Jim Clark said in response to the defense argument that the sentence should distinguish between violent and non-violent forms of terrorism. “All terrorism is inherently violent.”

The judge reserved her decision until July 24.

Online:  Prosecutors pushing for 10-year sentence for Toronto man who tried leave Canada to join ‘brutal’ terrorists

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