TORONTO – The RCMP are lauding the conviction of 28-year-old Mohamed Hassan Hersi as a “significant milestone,” as it marks the first time a person within Canada has been successfully tried for attempting to leave the country in pursuit of terrorism.
Hersi was arrested in March 2011 at Pearson International Airport as he boarded a plane headed for Cairo via London.
RCMP said he was on his way to Somalia to join the militant group al-Shabab, designated a terrorist organization by both Canada and the United States.
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His conviction was the culmination of Project Severe, undertaken by the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team as well as the Toronto Police Service.
“Today’s verdict speaks to our strong resolve to root out terrorist threats and keep Canadians and our allies safe,” RCMP Superintendent Doug Best, Ontario’s assistant criminal operations officer for national security, stated in a release issued Friday.
“We continue to work diligently with our partners to detect individuals who plan to engage in terrorist activity, to deny them the means and opportunities to pursue their plots and to bring them to justice.”
Hersi was charged under Section 83.18 of the Criminal Code of Canada with attempting to participate in the activities of a terrorist group and providing counsel to a person to participate in terrorist activity.
Global News was unable to reach Hersi’s lawyer, Paul Slansky, for comment.
Al-Shabab is an extremist Islamic terrorist force that originating in Somalia. They are estimated to have several thousand fighters, including a few hundred foreign fighters.
Last September, Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for an attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, that killed at least 67 people.
With files from The Canadian Press and the Associated Press