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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Al Shabaab Targeting Men and Women in Canada as Receruits

Toronto man facing terrorism charges after allegedly planning to join a Somali group linked to Al Qaeda was granted bail on Friday. Mohamed Hassan Hersi, 25, will remain under 24-hour house arrest except for medical emergencies and lawyer meetings. Hersi must be with one of his four sureties at all times in a release plan approved by Justice of the Peace Hilda Weiss in a Brampton courtroom. Bail of $200,000 with no deposit was ordered. Hersi must not to have any Internet access, a cell phone or a smart phone, but can use a home landline.

He can’t possess any weapons or ammunition, and must remain in Ontario and not apply for a passport. The reasons for granting bail remain under a publication ban as is all evidence presented during a two-day special bail hearing held earlier this month. “It was a well-reasoned and thought out decision and we are obviously very pleased,” Hersi’s lawyer, Anser Farooq, said outside the courtroom. “I hope the Crown re-evaluates its case and decides whether this is a prosecution worth pursuing…” Federal Crown attorney Iona Jaffe said she accepts the court’s decision.

Hersi was arrested at Toronto’s Pearson Airport last month as he was about to board a jet to Cairo via London. He had a one-way ticket, police said. Police allege Hersi planned to join the Somali militant group Al Shabaab, which is trying to overthrow Somalia’s government. Al Shabaab has been designated as a terrorist group in the U.S. and Canada. His lawyer previously told reporters that his client never wanted to join the group. He claimed he was set up by a man who tried to befriend him.

Police suspect several young Canadians have gone to Somalia to join the group in recent years. Hersi is a Canadian citizen. He was traveling alone when arrested, police said. He was charged under Canada’s anti-terrorism law with attempting to participate in terrorist activity and with providing counsel to a person to participate in a terrorist activity.

Hersi’s arrest came following a six-month investigation dubbed “Project Severe.” Relatives earlier told the Star that Hersi planned to study Arabic for several months in Egypt. Hersi was born in Somalia but moved to Canada as a child. He graduated from the University of Toronto with a science degree in 2009 but had been working as a security guard, relatives said.

Hersi’s arrest sparked fears within the local Somali community that Al Shabaab, known as an Islamic youth militia, is still recruiting young men. In 2009, six Somali-Canadian men disappeared from the Toronto area and are believed to have joined the group. One died in battle about a year ago.

Because Al Shabaab is a listed terrorist group within the authority of law in Canada, any participation in that group constitutes an offence under Canadian law. Hersi’s next court appearance is scheduled for May 26

Source: The Star

The Rest @ Somali Swiss TV alleged to be from the Toronto Star

Canadian Al-Shabaab Militant Killed in Mogadishu

by IPT News • Jun 9, 2011 at 10:00 pm

UPDATE: The FBI's Minneapolis Office has confirmed the identity of one of two suicide bombers involved in the attack on a Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) military checkpoint in Mogadishu on May 30th as Farah Mohamed Beledi.

Somali forces killed a Canadian al-Shabaab fighter Wednesday in a gun fight that ensued after he and other man refused to obey orders to stop at a military checkpoint in the capital of Mogadishu.

A source from the Somali-Canadian community told the National Post that a cell phone found on the body contained text messages and call logs reflecting contact with family in Toronto. A Somali army official said that a Canadian passport on the body identified the man as Muhan Jeans.

Jeans, reported a Somali radio station, is known as "Abdurrahman the Canadian" and is said to be an al-Shabaab commander in charge of the Juba region, near the Kenyan border.

Canadian security authorities are currently investigating the disappearance of 20 Canadians thought to have traveled to Somalia to join the al-Qaida linked militant Islamist group. In March, Canadian police arrested 25-year-old Mohamed Hersi at a Toronto airport before he left for Somalia and charged him with plotting to join al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab is well-known for its ability to recruit Western youth to fight the Somali transitional government for its ultimate goal of installing a pan-Islamic state in Somalia.

Like Canada, the U.S. has also opened investigations into the disappearance of Somali youth-primarily out of Minnesota. One Minnesota man, indicted in absentia by the U.S. last year, was reported to have died while trying to execute an al-Shabaab suicide bomb attack in Mogadishu last week.

Family members identified 27-year-old Farah Beledi in a photo from the scene of the attack which killed three, including one government solider. The Star Tribune reports that Beledi is believed to have left Minnesota shortly before he was indicted with seven others on terrorism-related charges. Abdullahi Ahmed, also from Minnesota, was initially identified as the perpetrator of the attack.

The FBI has not yet confirmed the identity of the bomber. It is unclear whether the initial reports were incorrect or if both men were killed in the attack. A Minnesota Public Radio report noted that while Beledi died before he successfully activated his bombs, African Union officials say another man successfully detonated his.

The Rest @ The Toronto Star

Group may be trying to extend reach, head of Canadian Somali Congress says
Ottawa, Canada, August 6, 2011 – Terrorist recruiters are targeting young Canadian Somali women to take up arms, the head of the Canadian Somali Congress told U.S. politicians Wednesday

  • In testimony before the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Ahmed Hussen suggested the reason may be increased police and security service attention over the recruitment of "dozens" of young Canadian Somali men from Ottawa and Toronto in recent years.
  • "Lately, the recruiters have turned their attention to the facilitation of young Canadian Somali women into joining al-Shabaab," the radical Somali youth militia now fully integrated with al-Qaeda, Hussen said in a prepared statement
  • Much of the youth recruiting is believed to be through the Internet and an online mix of religious tracts, rap music, videos and recruiting pitches delivered in English. Visiting extremist clerics are another propaganda source.
The fear, said Hussen, is that al-Shabaab will use Canadians and other westerners to extend its reach outside the war-and famine-ravaged East African nation, where it is battling a weak Western-backed government to turn the country into an Islamic state.

  • "There is no shortage of foot soldiers and young men that al-Shabaab can recruit in Somalia, so why would they spend all this money, effort and at great risk to recruit westerners, people who hold Canadian, U.S. and British passports?" he said during questioning by committee members.
  • "It's because we think they have aspirations beyond East Africa. They've proven that by attacking Uganda" last July with two suicide bombers, killing 79 people gathered to watch the FIFA World Cup Final on television.
U.S. officials are becoming increasingly worried, too, particularly after capturing an al-Shabaab commander who had allegedly been a liaison with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), an active Yemeni group that has tried to strike the U.S.

New York Republican Rep. Peter T. King, presiding Wednesday over the third in a series of controversial congressional hearings examining the radicalization of Muslim Americans, said committee staff investigators have determined that 40 Americans and 20 Canadians have joined the group in Somalia.

Critics charge that King's focus on Muslim Americans plays into the hands of extremists who say
Washington is wrongly targeting Islam for the 9/11 strikes.

  • King revealed that three Canadians, whom he did not identify, and at least 15 Amer-icans have been killed in fighting.
  • Previously, only one Canadian death was suspected, that of Mohamed Elmi Ibrahim, a University of Toronto student whom al-Shabaab said was killed "in battle" last year. He was the first of six Somali-Canadian men who reportedly disappeared from the Toronto area in 2009.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, 18 people have been charged in a scheme to recruit Somalis from the Minneapolis area to travel to Africa and join al-Shabaab. Eight defendants have been arrested, and six have pleaded guilty.

Fourteen people, including several U.S. citizens, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Minneapolis in last August on terrorism charges for travelling to Somalia and joining al-Shabaab, which Canada and the U.S. have banned as an outlawed terrorist group.

Canada's first arrest related to al-Shabaab was in March, when police detained Mohamed Hersi, 25, as the Canadian was waiting to board a flight from Toronto to Cairo. Police alleged his ultimate destination was Somalia and al-Shabaab. He is free on bail awaiting trial on two terrorism-related offences, including counselling a person to take part in terrorist activity.

Hussen could not be reached for comment after delivering his testimony.
  • He has said previously that in addition to the "Somali Six" from the Toronto area, he has been told two young Ottawa men, as well as two young women, also left for the Horn of Africa nation.
His prepared text Wednesday, citing unnamed Canadian national security officials, referred to, "the disappearances of dozens of young Canadian Somali males who had travelled to Somalia to fight for the al-Shabaab."

In his testimony, Hussen portrayed Canada's estimated 200,000 Somalis as struggling to fit into mainstream Canadian society since fleeing civil war in the late 1990s.

  • Almost 85 per cent of Canadian Somalis are under 30, with unemployment in Ottawa and Toronto hovering around 40 per cent in this group.
  • Many young men have dropped out of school.
  • Those who do persevere often can't find jobs in their professions, he said.
"A minority becomes alienated and fall victim to a narrative that turns them against Canada and the United States, the very countries that have sustained them and also gave refuge to their parents as they fled the brutal civil war in Somalia.

This dangerous and constant anti-western narrative is fed to them by radicals in our community who do not hesitate to use these vulnerable youth as gun fodder in their desire to establish a base for the al-Qaeda terrorist group in Somalia," he told the committee.

Police and security intelligence work is not enough to counter the threat, he said, nor is only working with religious leaders.

"You need to target the young professionals, people who are coming up, people who are dedicated to the values that have made this country great. Those are the people who have the credibility to turn back against the messaging that leads to radicalization.

"The fact of the matter is you can be a fully functioning Muslim in the United States and Canada more than any other place in the Islamic world because of our freedom of worship."

Although he spent many years in Toronto, Hussen was living in Ottawa when he founded the Canadian Somali Congress, one of the only national associations claiming to represent Somali-Canadians.

The organization does advocacy work and partners with other agencies, including Jewish Family Services of Ottawa, to organize professional internships for young Somali-Canadians.

Hussen often appears in the media, whether to talk about the Somali pirate issue, violence claiming the lives of Somali youth living in Alberta or, more recently, pressing the Canadian government to increase its immigration quota from Somalia in light of the worsening famine there.

The Rest @ The Somliland Times

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