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Burlington, Ont., man faces terrorism hoax charge after claiming to be ISIS member

A 25-year-old Burlington, Ont., man who publicly discussed his role in ISIS and execution-style killings is now facing charges for allegedly lying about all of it.

After a lengthy investigation the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's O Division Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (OINSET) arrested him on Friday and charged him with hoax-terrorist activity.

As early as 2016, Shehroze Chaudhry posted on social media about his involvement with ISIS. When Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) saw the online posts, it released a bulletin about Chaudhry.

When CBC News reported on the story, his real name was concealed to protect his identity.

In news reports, he was referred to by what he said was his jihadi nom de guerre Abu Huzaifa al-Kanadi (Abu Huzaifa the Canadian).

He initially told CBC News he joined ISIS in 2014 as an enforcer in the Syrian city of Manbij.

WATCH | Shehroze Chaudhry describes his experience as an ISIS enforcer

Exclusive interview with CBC's John Lancaster 3:32

He recalled witnessing violence on a scale he could never have imagined, including regular public lashings, beheadings and crucifixions. He said he suffered from nightmares and would wake up in a cold sweat at least three times a week.

Chaudhry also gave detailed accounts of shooting blindfolded, tied-up civilians in the back of the head when speaking on the New York Times podcast Caliphate.

His interviews with the media led conservatives to grill then public safety minister Ralph Goodale about whether the federal government was doing enough to protect Canadians from ISIS fighters who have returned to Canada.

But all of Chaudhry's statements about being an ISIS enforcer, the RCMP says, were lies.

WATCH | Former public safety minister Ralph Goodale discusses the terrorism hoax case

Former public safety minister Ralph Goodale discusses the terrorism hoax case against a Burlington, Ont., man. 0:50

Superintendent Christopher deGale, the officer in charge of OINSET explained the magnitude of a hoax.

"Hoaxes can generate fear within our communities and create the illusion there is a potential threat to Canadians while we have determined otherwise," he said. 

"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."

Chaudhry used what he said was his jihadi nom de guerre, Abu Huzaifa al-Kanadi (Abu Huzaifa the Canadian), when speaking to CBC News. (Submitted by MEMRI JTTM)

The RCMP said Canada Border Services Agency, Halton Regional Police Service, the Ministry of the Attorney General, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority and Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada were all involved in the investigation.

Chaudhry will appear in a Brampton, Ont., court on the morning of Nov. 16.

WATCH | When terror comes home: The plan for deradicalizing returning ISIS fighters

Dozens of Canadians have already returned home after joining terror organizations abroad. Others are waiting in detention camps in Syria. The federal government says it has a plan to keep the public safe when they return. Bob McKeown investigates Canada's strategy and finds there are serious concerns about how effective it'll be. 45:05

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