Canadian admits fabricating terrorism tale detailed in New York Times podcast

A Canadian guy admitted in court docket Friday that he made up stories about being an Islamic State fighter and executioner in Syria. In trade, Canadian government dropped legal fees in opposition to him of perpetrating a hoax involving the specter of terrorism.

The guy, Shehroze Chaudhry, had unfold fabricated tales of lifestyles as a terrorist in Syria on social media starting in 2016, in step with an agreed commentary of information between prosecutors and the protection. He then repeated them to a number of information retailers, together with The New York Times, which then amplified his stories, the commentary mentioned.

Chaudhry, who’s now 26, had come to remorseful about giving interviews to the scoop media and “wanted to finish school and turn his life around,” the commentary mentioned.

Prosecutors agreed to drop the fees as a result of Chaudhry’s stories “were mistakes borne out of immaturity — not sinister intent and certainly not criminal intent,” his legal professional, Nader R. Hasan, wrote in an electronic mail.

Chaudhry was once, alternatively, required to put up a so-called peace bond for $10,000, which might be forfeited if he violates phrases of the deal. The prosecutor was once no longer instantly to be had for remark.

Under the identify Abu Huzayfah, Chaudhry, who lives within the Toronto suburb of Burlington, Ontario, was once the central determine within the Times’ 10-part podcast sequence “Caliphate.” The unlock of that sequence in 2018, and different stories in accordance with Chaudhry’s stories, created a political firestorm in Canada’s Parliament amongst opposition events that time and again attacked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s govt for seeming to permit a terrorist killer to freely roam the streets of suburban Toronto.

But actually, there was once little to no chance to the general public. The commentary of information introduced within the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton on Friday concluded: “Mr. Chaudhry has never entered Syria nor participated in ISIS operations anywhere in the world.”

Last yr, Chaudhry was once arrested in Canada on fees that he perpetrated a hoax that terrified and threatened the general public. After his arrest, the Times reexamined the “Caliphate” sequence and located “a history of misrepresentations by Mr. Chaudhry and no corroboration that he committed the atrocities he described in the ‘Caliphate’ podcast.” The podcast didn’t hang up, the Times mentioned.

The reexamination of the sequence discovered that “Times journalists were too credulous about the verification steps that were undertaken and dismissive of the lack of corroboration of essential aspects of Mr. Chaudhry’s account,” mentioned Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokesperson for the Times. “Since that time, we’ve introduced new practices to prevent similar lapses,” she mentioned.

In 2019, “Caliphate” received an Overseas Press Club prize and a Peabody Award. The Overseas Press Club rescinded its award, and the Times returned the Peabody. The Pulitzer Prize Board additionally rescinded its popularity of the podcast as a finalist.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police interviewed Chaudhry in April 2017 — a yr prior to the “Caliphate” podcast — in accordance with details about his social media postings. At that point, he advised them he had made up his stories of being an Islamic State fighter in Syria.

Despite that admission to police, he persevered to painting himself in information media interviews and on social media as a former Islamic State fighter virtually as much as his arrest in September of remaining yr.

The commentary of information introduced in court docket Friday mentioned a Times journalist, Rukmini Callimachi, driven Chaudhry to spin his false narrative.

“At times during the podcast, Ms. Callimachi expressly encouraged Mr. Chaudhry to discuss violent acts,” the commentary says. “When Mr. Chaudhry expressed reluctance to do so, she responded, ‘You need to talk about the killings.’ ”

Chaudhry’s trial at the terrorist hoax fees was once scheduled to start in February. Prosecutors agreed to drop the fees in trade for his confession, in addition to his consent to put up the peace bond and abide by way of its prerequisites.

Under the phrases of the peace bond, which is reserved for individuals who the government concern might dedicate terrorist acts, Chaudhry will have to stay in Ontario for the following yr and are living along with his oldsters. He is illegal from proudly owning any guns, will have to proceed to obtain counseling and is needed to document any adjustments in his digital or bodily addresses to police.


Instagram posts beginning in 2016 — made underneath Chaudhry’s identify and posted in conjunction with an identifiable {photograph} of his face — mentioned Chaudhry had traveled to Syria in 2014 and been made a part of the Islamic State team’s Amniyat segment, a wing chargeable for inner safety, “for a bit less than a year.”

“I’ve been on the battlefield,” the posts mentioned. “I support the brothers fighting on the ground.”

All the whilst, alternatively, Chaudhry were at his circle of relatives’s house in Burlington or operating at a cafe it owns in neighboring Oakville, Ontario.

In November 2016, the Middle East Media Research Institute, a bunch based totally in Washington, compiled Chaudhry’s on-line claims of terrorist job right into a document that was once dispensed to Callimachi and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, amongst others.

That document induced an anti-terrorism unit with individuals from more than a few Canadian legislation enforcement and intelligence companies, together with the Mounties, to open the terrorism investigation.

After confirming Chaudhry’s id by way of matching a web-based portrait in opposition to the picture on his driving force’s license, police additionally bought his commute data. In a gathering with police April 12, 2017, Chaudhry showed that he had written the ones posts.

“He also readily admitted that he never went to Syria,” in step with the joint commentary of information introduced in court docket.

The commentary additionally mentioned that in a while after receiving the analysis team’s document, Callimachi emailed Chaudhry to invite if he would talk about his intended reports within the Islamic State team. She quickly traveled to Toronto to report interviews that had been used for “Caliphate.”

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