Authorities in Canada have arrested and charged a man with making repeated false claims that he had traveled to Syria to join the ISIS and carried out grisly crimes, they announced.
The charges against 25-year-old Shehroze Chaudhry stemmed from his claims in news media — including in a widely noted interview with New York Times podcast the Caliphate — of a terrorist past, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said late Friday.
Chaudhry — who has used the alias Abu Huzayfah, according to Canada’s Global News — claimed to have traveled to Syria in 2016 to join the IS group and serve with its religious police.
He said he had personally carried out at least two executions and witnessed other acts of violence.
The RCMP said Chaudhry, who lives in the city of Burlington in Ontario province, was charged after a lengthy investigation “in connection with a hoax regarding terrorist activity.”
It accused him of “raising public safety concerns amongst Canadians.”
“Hoaxes can generate fear within our communities and create the illusion there is a potential threat to Canadians, while we have determined otherwise,” said a statement from superintendent Christopher deGale, who heads the RCMP national security unit.
“As a result, the RCMP takes these allegations very seriously.”
In 2018, during a question period in Canada’s House of Commons that followed Chaudhry’s Caliphate interview, opposition Conservatives expressed outrage that he could still be free after making his repeated terroristic claims.
They demanded his arrest, and in an ensuing investigation inconsistencies began to emerge in his accounts.
Chaudhry is scheduled to make a court appearance in Brampton, Ontario on November 16, the authorities said.
Canada’s terrorism hoax laws carry a maximum sentence of five years.
The RCMP security unit is tasked with “investigating individuals who have either departed Canada for the purpose of contributing to the activities of a terrorist group or returned back to Canada after participating in the activities of a terrorist group.”