A Canadian accused by the RCMP of falsely claiming he had been an ISIS executioner in Syria appeared in Ontario court on Monday to face a terrorism hoax charge.
His case was put over until Jan. 25.
A 25-year-old employee at his family’s Oakville, Ont., shawarma restaurant, Chaudhry was featured prominently in a popular U.S. podcast as “Abu Huzayfah.”
His widely publicized claims that he was living freely in the Toronto area despite having executed victims by stabbing them in the heart set off heated debate in the House of Commons.
But four years after he began posting on social media about his past in ISIS, the RCMP accused him of making it up, invoking a rarely used “hoax regarding terrorist activist” charge.
The RCMP said his alleged fabrications had needlessly diverted police resources and raised public safety concerns among Canadians, who feared a terrorist was living among them.
“Hoaxes can generate fear within our communities and create the illusion there is a potential threat to Canadians, while we have determined otherwise,” the RCMP said in a news release.
Police confirmed their investigation had focused partly on the popular New York Times podcast Caliphate, which was downloaded tens of millions of times and won a Peabody award.
A Pakistani-Canadian, Chaudhry left Burlington, Ont., after graduating from high school and studied at the University of Lahore. Upon returning to Canada in 2016, he posted on social media that he had been in Syria with the ISIS religious police.
His Facebook page contained extremist posts, including praise for a senior Al Qaeda figure and a post defending his return to Canada, saying “I’m the biggest thorn to the kuffar (non-believers) living here.”
The posts have been removed.