Nouakchott - A young Canadian man who headed to North Africa
to study the Quran is now serving two years in a Mauritanian prison after
authorities say he was recruited to train at an al-Qaeda camp in northern Mali,
an official said on Thursday.
Aaron Yoon, 24, reportedly had travelled to Morocco with two
Canadians accused of taking part in the terror attack on a BP-operated natural
gas plant in south-eastern Algeria earlier this year.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported all three were once
friends from the same London, Ontario high school.
Yoon's relatives have told the CBC, however, that he had not
been in contact with the two other terror suspects in more than a year.
Mauritanian authorities say Yoon had ties to al-Qaeda's
affiliate in Africa - al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or Aqim.
"This Canadian citizen stated to investigators that he
had come from Morocco to study the Quran and Islamic law before being
indoctrinated by salafist jihadists who recruited him to join Aqim in the north
of Mali," said a Mauritanian judicial official who spoke on condition of
anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to journalists.
Yoon was convicted last July on charges of having ties to a
terrorist group and of posing a danger to national security, the Mauritanian
When asked about Yoon, Canada's foreign affairs department
would only confirm that a Canadian had been detained and declined further
The January 16 attack and four-day siege on a gas facility
in southern Algeria ended with the deaths of 37 hostages and 29 terrorists.
Chad's government claimed that the mastermind of the attack,
Moktar Belmoktar, has been killed in fighting in northern Mali, but the claim
has not been independently verified.