07/24/2014 11:22 EDT | Updated 09/23/2014 05:59 EDT

Mohamed Hersi Sentenced To 10 Years For Attempting To Join Al-Shabaab

In this photo of Thursaday, Oct.21, 2010, Al-Shabaab fighters display weopons as they conduct military exercises in northern Mogadishu, Somalia A failed offensive by Somalia's strongest insurgent group has left at least 20 people dead as the Islamist group attempted to recapture a district in southwestern Somalia from government forces, an official and a witness said Friday. The attempt by al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-linked Somali militia, to win back a district near Kenya's border left 12 people injured, said local resident Osman Gelle. Gelle said the violence, which started Thursday afternoon, was the worst he had seen in more than a year. Somali government forces took over the Beled-Hawa district last Sunday in an offensive launched to take back areas held by militants. Al-Shabab militants took control of the area in Jan. 2009 after Ethiopian troops, who had entered to support Somalia's transitional government, withdrew from Somalia. The militia group briefly lost control of the town in Aug. 2009 to Ahlu Sunna Waljamea, a moderate Islamist group allied to the government. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sheikh Nor)
Mohamed Hersi, the first man ever convicted in Canada of trying to join a terrorist group, was sentenced by Justice Deena Baltman to 10 years in prison.

This was the full sentence the Crown asked for in the precedent-setting case. 

"Anything less trivializes the nature of his actions," said the judge about the sentence from the Peel Region court in Brampton, Ont.

Hersi was convicted of attempting to participate in terrorist activity abroad and trying to enlist an undercover officer. The Crown argued he was trying to join the Somali militant group al-Shabaab, which Canada deems a terrorist entity.

The 28-year-old, who was working as a security guard, intended to travel onward to Somalia to join al-Shabaab, the Crown said. 

He was bound for Cairo when he was arrested at Toronto's Pearson International Airport in 2011.

Hersi never officially joined the group and denied the allegations, saying he was going overseas to study Arabic for several months.

Hersi is the first person convicted in Canada for offences related to Criminal Code's Section 83.18, which makes it illegal to "knowingly participate" or "knowingly contribute" to "any activity of a terrorist group for the purpose of enhancing the ability of any terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity."

Hersi will be eligible for parole only after half of his sentence is served.

Also on HuffPost

Syria War in July