Friday, July 25, 2014

Canada: Ontario Judge Sternly Warns "Terror Tourists," Sentences Hersi to 10 Years

According to The National Post, an Ontario judge issued a stern rebuke against “terror tourists” — those leaving Canada to join militant groups abroad — by ordering the maximum sentence against a Somalian-Canadian arrested while trying to leave Toronto to join al-Shabaab.

There are two possibilities that emerge from the sentencing of  Mohamed Hersi, 28, the first Canadian to be convicted for attempting to participate in terrorist activity abroad, in his case, in his native Somalia, for for attempting to persuade another person to join him.

The hearing was held Wednesday before Ontario Superior Court Judge Deena Baltman, who reserved her decision until July 24.

The first possibility was raised by Hersi’s lawyer, Paul Slansky, the character letters he submitted on his client’s behalf and to some degree by Hersi’s testimony in his own defense at trial.

This scenario has him as a peaceable blowhard who had been, as Hersi put it once on the witness stand, talking “out of my ass” when he told an undercover police agent that he was going to join Somalia's al-Shabaab terror group and who simply couldn’t have hidden his purported fanatical character from family and friends. 
 
COMMENT: “Terrorists are the worst kinds of cowards because they deliberately target innocent members of the public who are not prepared for combat,” said Ontario Superior Court Justice Deena Baltman in her sentencing decision Thursday (July 24) in a landmark terrorism cases.

“The message needs to be sent out that anyone who aspires to become part of such evil must pay a heavy price,” Judge Baltman said.

Mohamed Hersi, a 28-year-old former security guard, was given ten years in prison for attempting to join a terrorist group and for counseling another person to join him.

If Hersi were charged today, after Parliament amended the Criminal Code in July 2013, instead of three years ago, he would be facing 15 years, Judge Baltman said.

Calling terrorism “particularly reprehensible,” she ordered that Hersi be ineligible to apply for parole until he has served at least half of his sentence rather than the usual one-third.

Hersi’s lawyer, Paul Slansky, said both the conviction and the sentence will be appealed.

This report will be updated as new information comes to light.