U of T graduate’s arrest on terror charges alarms Toronto Somalis

News Agencies – March 31, 2011

25-year-old Mohamed Hersi who was born in Somalia but moved to Canada as a child, was trying to turn his life around. Despite having a science degree and a job as a security guard, Hersi had grown frustrated with life. He was tired of living in a dilapidated public housing unit near Markham Rd. and Eglinton Ave. E. and of watching his mother, a widow who had raised four children alone, struggling to make ends meet. Hersi wanted to go to Egypt to “get the morals I’ve lost.”
Police arrested Hersi without incident Tuesday night at Pearson airport before boarding a plane for London, where he was to catch a connecting flight to the Cairo airport. He had a one-way ticket. His final destination would have been Somalia where Hersi allegedly planned to join Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda-inspired movement designated as a terrorist group in the U.S. and Canada.
Hersi’s arrest has sparked fears within the local Somali community that Al Shabaab, an Islamist youth militia, is still recruiting young men. In 2009, six Somali-Canadian men disappeared from the Toronto area and were believed to have joined the group. One died in battle about a year ago.