Canadian law enforcement officers arrested a man who allegedly sought to travel to Somalia to join the terrorist group Al-Shabaab, an affiliate of al-Qaeda.
The suspect, 25-year-old Mohamed Hersi, was stopped at Toronto Pearson airport on Tuesday, Canadian police said in a press statement.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said he was bound for Cairo, then Somalia. Hersi appeared in a Brampton, Ontario, courtroom Wednesday and was remanded into custody until Friday when he was formally charged.
Police gave little information about him, only that he is a Canadian citizen and quit his job in preparation for the trip. Al-Shabaab is an al-Qaeda-linked militia trying to overthrow Somalia's transitional government.He planned to join Al-Shabaab, which the US and Canada consider a terror group, and "participate in their terrorist activities," police said.
Hersi was charged under Canadian federal law with attempting to participate in terrorist activity and with providing counsel to a person to participate in such activity, police said.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said more information on the suspect will be forthcoming. A U.S. law enforcement official told the Law Enforcement Examiner that an anti-terror police unit began investigating Hersi in October, and arrested him without incident after learning he planned to "travel to Somali to hook up with Al-Shabaab."
Al-Shabaab, which loosely translates to “The Youth,” operates as a terrorist organization whose objective is the violent overthrow of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the ouster of African Union support, and the imposition of Shariah law in Somalia.
While Al-Shabaab operates mainly in Somalia and North Africa, there have been suspects captured in the U.S. For example, American law enforcement officers nailed a Somali national after he attempted to blow up an improvised explosive device at a Christmas tree lighting celebration at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Oregon in December 2010.Terrorism suspect planning to fight in Somalia nailed by Canadian cops