A Canadian man who, in several interviews with the New York Times, recounted a gruesome description of working for Daesh has been accused by police of making the entire story up, the Times reports.
Shehroze Chaudhry was arrested in Burlington, Ontario, on Friday under Canada’s little-used terrorism “hoax” laws, which carry a maximum sentence of five years, after Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers concluded his account was fabricated.
The 25-year-old, who’s nom de guerre was Abu Huzayfeh, told reporters working on the New York Times podcast Caliphate he had travelled to Syria in 2014 to join Daesh.
Chaudhry claimed he had worked for the group’s Islamic police, witnessing and, in some cases, carrying out public lashings, beheadings and crucifixions.
The Canadian, who is also believed to hold a Pakistani passport, later claimed he had shot two blindfolded civilians at his commander’s orders.
According to the Times’ report, Chaudhry claimed he had murdered the two people to both New York Times reporters and via social media.
Chaudhry later claimed he had become disillusioned with Daesh and managed a miraculous escape to Turkey on a motorbike. The 25-year-old said he then travelled to Pakistan before returning home to Canada.
The podcast sparked Canadian MPs to call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take more decisive action against domestic terrorists.
“When is the prime minister going to stop allowing these bloodthirsty terrorists to walk on our streets?” Shadow Defence Minister James Bezan said at the time.
Speaking on the danger of such terrorism hoaxes, Superintendent Christopher deGale was quoted by the Times as saying: “Hoaxes can generate fear within our communities and create the illusion there is a potential threat to Canadians.”
The possibility Chaudhry’s story was fabricated emerged early on in the podcast, with reporters quick to pick holes in the timeline he provided. Several further discrepancies have reportedly been unearthed since the podcast was released.
Nevertheless, Chaudhry is unlikely to be successfully convicted, according to the Times, because the prosecution will have to prove his account is false, demonstrate that the 25-year-old intended to spread fear and that the story was spread wide enough to create such fear.