A Canadian who left Toronto in 2000 to join Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda was sentenced to 7½ years imprisonment yesterday after admitting he had trained with and helped finance the terrorist group. Although his lawyers described Mohamed Abdullah Warsame as simply “a naive, near-sighted and overweight idealist” who became deeply religious while living in Toronto and travelled to Afghanistan in search of an “Islamic utopia,” prosecutors in Minneapolis argued the 35-year-old Somali, who came to Canada as a refugee in 1989, was devoted to the al-Qaeda cause.
Warsame could be released in less than a year and deported to Canada; he has been in custody since his 2003 arrest and the judge gave him credit for the time he has already served. Warsame pleaded guilty in May to a single count of providing material support to al-Qaeda. In exchange, federal prosecutors dropped three counts of making false statements to the FBI.