OTTAWA – Police in Canada arrested a man from the Toronto area who claimed he was an ISIS executioner and accused him of joking that he was involved in terrorist activities.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the man, Shehroze Chaudhry, 25, “claimed he traveled to Syria in 2016 to join the ISIS terrorist group and commit acts of terrorism.” The interviews he gave to the media raised “public safety concerns among Canadians”, according to national police.
Sgt. Lucie Lapointe, a spokeswoman for Mounted Police, said Mr. Chaudry was the person featured extensively in Caliphate, a podcast for the New York Times, under the name Abu Huzayfah. On the podcast, he described his role in executions in harrowing detail. The Times declined to discuss the procurement.
“The uncertainty about Abu Huzayfah’s story is central to any episode of the Caliphate in which it appears,” Danielle Rhoades Ha, a Times spokeswoman, said in a statement. She noted that one episode confirmed that Abu Huzayfah had misled The Times about the dates of his trip to Syria and the timing of his radicalization.
“The episode tells the audience what our journalists knew for sure and what was still unknown,” she said.
But she said the Times used geolocation to place Mr. Huzayfah on the banks of the Euphrates in Syria.
Mr Chaudry’s description of his terrorist activities sparked a political storm in Canada. Opposition MPs urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to explain why Mr Chaudry was not arrested on his return to Canada. It is a crime under Canadian law to leave the country to participate in terrorist activities.
However, by the time the arrest was announced on Friday, police had said little about their investigation, which several other authorities were involved in.
The terrorism joke charge that Mr Chaudry faces is usually used to prosecute individuals who are accused of threatening false bombs rather than fabricating terrorist pasts.
Mr. Chaudry, who lives in a suburb of Toronto in Burlington, Ontario, is due to appear in court in November.
Canadian police did not immediately respond to questions which led to the charges. The force generally does not comment on their investigation.
Mr. Chaudry was enrolled as a student in environmental studies at York University in Toronto and the University of Lahore in Pakistan, according to his LinkedIn profile. He also said he was an intern for Parallel Networks, an Alexandria, Virginia-based company, and at a restaurant in Oakville, Ontario. Several Canadian news outlets said they were owned by his parents.