A Canadian’s Gripping Tale Withers Under Scrutiny

In spring 2018, the federal government was below hearth. The New York Occasions had launched a podcast, “Caliphate,” during which a person from suburban Toronto claimed to have traveled to Syria, joined the Islamic State and dedicated ugly executions earlier than returning to Canada.

“Canadians deserve extra solutions from this authorities,” mentioned Candice Bergen, the Conservative home chief on the time. “Why aren’t they doing one thing about this despicable animal that’s strolling across the nation?”

In late September, there was a response to that query. A nationwide safety investigations unit led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police charged Shehroze Chaudhry, the person who glided by the identify Abu Huzayfah within the podcast, with finishing up a terrorism-related hoax.

For a lot of the time because the cost was laid, Mark Mazzetti, Graham Bowley, Malachy Browne and I’ve been wanting into two broad and associated questions: Why are the police assured that Mr. Chaudhry is a fabulist and what did Mr. Chaudhry truly do?

[Read: A Riveting ISIS Story, Told in a Times Podcast, Falls Apart]

The quick model of our article is that investigators, largely utilizing publicly out there data like flight data and his social media posts, shortly decided that Mr. Chaudhry didn’t enter Syria or be a part of ISIS, a lot much less commit the grievous crimes he describes within the podcast. Our evaluation of every little thing we may discover about Mr. Chaudhry, who lives in Burlington, Ontario, didn’t rule out the chance that he went to Syria inside a slender window of some weeks. However we additionally discovered a historical past of misrepresentations by him that casts ample doubt on his claims.

In the end, we couldn’t discover any unbiased corroboration of Mr. Chaudhry’s participation within the atrocities he claims to have dedicated within the “Caliphate” podcast.

The group I used to be a part of regarded into Mr. Chaudhry’s claims, not what the podcast’s journalists did with them. That was the function of the editors. In an editors’ be aware hooked up to the “Caliphate” episodes, they mentioned that the podcast was “not sufficiently rigorous” and that its episodes that includes Mr. Chaudhry didn’t meet The Occasions’s requirements.

[Read: The Editors’ Note on ‘Caliphate’]

In a brand new episode of “Caliphate,” Dean Baquet, the manager editor of The Occasions, gives extra element about the place issues went incorrect with “Caliphate” and what’s being finished to keep away from an identical failure sooner or later.

“When The New York Occasions does deep, massive, formidable journalism in any format, we put it to an incredible quantity of scrutiny on the higher ranges of the newsroom,” Mr. Baquet mentioned within the new episode, including that was not the case with the unique podcast. “And I believe that I or any person else ought to have supplied that very same sort of scrutiny, as a result of it was an enormous, formidable piece of journalism.”

Mr. Mazzetti additionally talks about our group’s reporting within the episode.

[Listen: An Examination of ‘Caliphate’]

Marc Tracy and Katie Robertson, two colleagues who cowl media for The Occasions, have additionally weighed in on all of this.

[Read: New York Times Says ‘Caliphate’ Podcast Fell Short of Standards ]

Mr. Chaudhry, who was launched on the situation he seem in court docket, stays in Burlington and works at his household’s restaurant in close by Oakville. His trial will not be anticipated to start out till nicely into 2021.

On a private be aware, I hope that the upcoming holidays will present a break for everybody in these uncommon and infrequently tense occasions.



A local of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Occasions for the previous 16 years. Comply with him on Twitter at @ianrausten.


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