(CNN)The details were gory and vivid, the emotion was raw, but Canadian police say 25-year-old Shehroze Chaudhry lied about being a foreign fighter for ISIS and in so doing, perpetrated a terrorist "hoax."
His confession about being an ISIS executioner enraged Canadians. Now police say he made it up
Last week, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police charged Chaudhry, a Toronto-area man, with "Hoax-Terrorist activity" in relation to interviews that were published by "multiple media outlets," according to a police news release.
The RCMP did not provide further details about their allegations, noting only in the news release that Chaudhry "claimed he travelled to Syria in 2016 to join the terrorist group ISIS and committed acts of terrorism."
Chaudhry declined to comment to CNN.
"Hoaxes can generate fear within our communities and create the illusion there is a potential threat to Canadians, while we have determined otherwise. 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," said Superintendent Christopher deGale, of the RCMP's Ontario Division of the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team.
RCMP did not outline what investigators knew about Chaudhry's trips to Syria or if they could confirm that he had ever traveled there. Police also did not disclose whether they believe Chaudhry fabricated the entire story about being an ISIS member or whether it was specific details that Chaudhry disclosed in media interviews that constituted the "hoax."
Leaving Canada to participate in the activities of a terrorist group is an indictable offence with a maximum sentence of 10 years.
In a series of media interviews, most notably with the award-winning New York Times 2018 podcast "Caliphate," Chaudhry -- portrayed under the name Abu Huzayfah in interviews -- talked in graphic terms about ISIS killings and violence and pledged allegiance to the ISIS cause of creating an Islamic caliphate.
After the debut of "Caliphate," Chaudhry also spoke to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, but gave different details about his level of involvement with ISIS, according to CBC.
In a statement to CNN, the RCMP says it "can confirm that Shehroze Chaudhry is the same person as Abu Huzayfah from the New York Times podcast Caliphate.
"The information aired in the Caliphate Podcast series was investigated, as were other avenues of information available to us, with the result of our investigation being the basis for the charge laid against Mr. Chaudhry," says Sgt. Lucie Lapointe.
You could still hear the shock in Amarnath Amarasingam's voice as he discussed the bombshell charges against Chaudhry, a man he says he has spoken to almost every week for nearly 4 years for research and community reintegration efforts.
"From everything we've talked about I'm a little blown away by the charge so I'm waiting to see what the RCMP says about the case and see if it survives in court somehow," said Amarasingam, an assistant professor in the School of Religion at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario in an interview with CNN.
In his work as a researcher and lecturer in extremist ideology, Amarasingam says he has spoken to dozens of ISIS fighters and while he says he cannot rule out that Chaudhry lied, he is stunned at the allegations that he faked the whole story.
"He was incredibly detailed, incredibly plausible, and then the emotional aspect of it added to it. When someone is telling you a story, when you're describing a murder that you committed or that you saw, if you haven't experienced anything like that it's really hard," said Amarasingam, adding that he spoke to Chaudhry in the last few days but did not discuss the charges against him.
In a statement to CNN on Wednesday, VP for Communications Danielle Rhoades Ha said the New York Times was reviewing the way it presented Huzayfah in the series.
"While the uncertainty about Abu Huzayfah's story was explored directly in episodes of Caliphate that featured him, his arrest and the allegations surrounding it have raised new and important questions about him and his motivations. We're undertaking a fresh examination of his history and the way we presented him in our series. We will have more to say when we complete that effort."
In an earlier statement, the Times said uncertainty about Abu Huzayfah's story was "central to every episode of Caliphate that f