Canadian Al-Qaeda trainee jailed in Mauritania

A Canadian man has been imprisoned in Mauritania for attempting to join an Al-Qaeda training camp in neighbouring Mali, a judicial source told AFP on Thursday.

Aaron Yoon was jailed for two years by a court in Nouakchott in July last year when he was 24, said the source, who was unable to specify where he was serving the sentence.

Yoon, who is of Korean descent, was arrested "late in December 2011 when he tried to visit the camps of AQIM (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) in Mali", the source said.

The prison term was also reported by the Sahara Media agency, citing court documents, which said: "The young Canadian informed the criminal court that he had been enlisted by a Mauritanian Islamist named Mohamed El-Hafedh who made him listen to jihadist lectures and sermons, inviting him to join AQIM camps in Mali."

Yoon told the Mauritanian authorities on his arrest that he "came from Morocco to learn the Koran and the Arabic language in its Islamic institutions", according to the judicial source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Mauritania shares over 2,200 kilometres (1,350 miles) of border with Mali, where a French-led military operation has been under way against armed Islamist groups since they were driven out of cities in the country's vast north in January.