05/30/2014 03:16 EDT | Updated 07/30/2014 05:59 EDT

Toronto man convicted of terrorism charges, setting Canadian precedent

Mohamed Hersi, a Toronto man, has been found guilty of two terrorism-related charges.

Hersi is the first person to stand trial in this country for attempting to join a foreign group classified as a terrorist organization.

The Somali-Canadian was arrested at Pearson International Airport in March 2011 as he tried to board a plane to Cairo with a one-way ticket.

The Crown said the 28-year-old was going to join al-Shabaab. 

He was convicted of attempting to participate in terrorist activity and providing counsel to a person to participate in a terrorist activity.

Hersi denied the allegations, saying he was going overseas to study Arabic for several months.

Hersi landed on police radar after his employer discovered a USB key containing extremist materials in his work uniform. His employer reported it to authorities.

Over the next several months, Hersi was befriended by an undercover police officer, who has testified at length during the trial.

Over the course of Hersi's trial at a Brampton courthouse, the court heard that he was a friend of Mohamed Elmi Ibrahim, a former University of Toronto student who joined al-Shabaab and was killed in 2011. Ibrahim's so-called "martyrdom video" was posted online by the group shortly after his death.

The trial set a legal precedent for terrorism-related cases in Canada.