A compelling ISIS story told in a Times Podcast falls apart

Now Mr. Chaudhry’s public statements have put him in legal jeopardy. In September, Canadian authorities accused Chaudhry of committing a terrorist hoax, a criminal charge that could run up to five years in prison if convicted.

Tracking the thousands of fighters who have traveled from around the world to fight the Islamic State is a vast, often dark endeavor. Before “caliphate” was broadcast, two US officials told The Times that Mr Chaudhry had in fact joined IS and crossed into Syria. And some people who know and have advised Mr Chaudhry say they have no doubt that he has extremist, jihadist views.

But Canadian law enforcement officials, who conducted a nearly four-year investigation into Mr Chaudhry, say their investigation of his travel and financial records, social media reports, statements to police and other intelligence convinced them that he is not Syria. entered or join ISIS, let alone committed the serious crimes he described.

US officials interviewed for this article support the conclusion that Mr. Chaudhry, who turns 26 Saturday, was never a terrorist threat. It’s hard to say with absolute certainty that he never entered Syria, they warn.

But even if he did, they claim, it would have been a brief period – during which he claimed to join ISIS, have religious and weapons training, go on patrols, carry out punishments, carry out executions. and participate in secret discussions about plotting high-profile attacks on the West.

“Hoaxes can create fear within our communities and create the illusion that there is a potential threat to Canadians when we have decided otherwise,” said Chief Inspector Christopher deGale, the head of the national security team conducting the investigation, in a statement on the case. . .

The series “Caliphate” raised questions about some of Mr. Chaudhry’s claims and dedicated an episode of the podcast to them. After Canadians accused Mr. Chaudhry of a hoax, The Times re-examined his case, taking a fresh look at social media posts, photos, travel reports, academic transcripts and other potential evidence that could shed light on his claim that he and killed for ISIS in Syria.