Terror Conviction Upheld in Case of Man Arrested at Pearson Airport in Mississauga

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A Toronto man who was convicted of terrorism-related charges after being arrested at Pearson Airport in Mississauga will not have his conviction overturned.

According to a recently released Court of Appeal ruling, Mohamed Hersi was convicted by a jury of one count of attempting to knowingly participate in or contribute to the activities of Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group. He was also convicted of one count of counselling another person (an undercover police officer) to knowingly participate in or contribute to the activities of Al-Shabaab.

The trial judge imposed consecutive sentences of five years' imprisonment. Due to credit for presentence custody, Hersi will face total a sentence of nine years and 7.5 months.

According to the ruling, Hersi became a person of interest close to 10 years ago. In October 2010, Hersi was working as a security guard in an office tower in Toronto when his employer found out that he possessed material "suggesting radical and violent beliefs"

Police subsequently launched an investigation.

According to the ruling, an undercover officer was assigned to the case and began working with Hersi in the same building. The officer testified that, over the course of multiple conversations, Hersi expressed support for Al-Shabaab, a well-known terrorist organization in Somalia.

Documents say Hersi told the officer that he planned to travel to Somalia via Egypt to join Al-Shabaab. He reportedly said he would do "whatever they asked him to do in support of the group's Jihadist goals."

The officer also testified that Hersi actively counselled him to do the same thing.

According to the ruling, Hersi was arrested on March 29, 2011 at Pearson Airport when was waiting to board a flight to England with a connecting flight to Cairo, Egypt.

The ruling says Hersi had quit his job in Toronto and booked a one-night stay at a hostel in Cairo.

The Crown alleged that Hersi’s travel plans showed that he was on his way to join Al-Shabaab, just as he had told the officer he would do.

Following his conviction, Hersi appealed his sentence on 15 grounds, nine of which challenge various rulings made by the trial judge in the course of the trial. The rest allege multiple errors in the trial judge's instruction to the jury.

The appeal was ultimately denied, with the judge finding no issues with the trial judge's initial ruling.

"I accept these findings of fact. All underscore that [Hersi] knew exactly what he was doing. He was determined to join fellow travellers and engage in violent crimes in the name of their terrorist cause," the ruling reads.

To read more, click here.

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