Canada arrests man for lying about joining Islamic State under terrorism hoax law

Shehroze Chaudhry, 25, gained notoriety from the podcast, Caliphate, but his account of grisly murders for Isis has been questioned

Police in Canada have arrested a man for lying about his participation with the Islamic State, while charging another for joining the terror group in Syria.

Police announced on Friday charges against Shehroze Chaudhry, 25, who operated under the name Abu Huzayfah al-Kanadi. He was charged under the country’s terrorism hoax laws, which carry a maximum sentence of five years.

In 2016 Chaudhry had claimed to have travelled to Syria to join Islamic State, alleging he was a member of the terror group’s religious police. On social media, he claimed to have conducted at least two executions on the group’s behalf.

Chaudhry gained further notoriety as the subject of a New York Times podcast, Caliphate. In the interviews, he described in detail the grisly murders of innocent civilians.

After the podcast aired, parliamentarians expressed outrage that Chaudhry was walking free. “When is the prime minister going to stop allowing these bloodthirsty terrorists to walk on our streets, and throw them in jail instead?” Conservative lawmaker James Bezan said during a session of parliament.

In the years since, however, doubts have arisen over the accuracy of his testimonials. Numerous media outlets reported discrepancies in Chaudhry’s subsequent re-telling of events.

“Hoaxes can generate fear within our communities and create the illusion there is a potential threat to Canadians, while we have determined otherwise,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) superintendent Christopher deGale said in a statement.

“As a result, the RCMP takes these allegations very seriously, particularly when individuals, by their actions, cause the police to enter into investigations in which human and financial resources are invested and diverted from other ongoing priorities.”

The country’s terrorism hoax law is rarely used and terrorism expert Amarnath Amarasingam believes the RCMP will have a tough time making their case in the courts, tweeting that police will have to prove Chaudhry instilled fears in others, that he intended to create fear and that the information was false.

“I do think this charge creates an interesting dilemma for the RCMP and for Huzayfah. Does he admit he went to Syria, and face a terrorism offence?” he wrote.

In a separate release, federal police announced terrorism charges against an unnamed 30-year-old Alberta man. As part of a seven-year investigation, police allege the man joined the Islamic State in 2013 and committed acts of terrorism including “knowingly committ[ing] the offence of kidnapping at the direction of, or in association with the terrorist group”.


Leyland Cecco

The GuardianTramp

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