Canadian Man Arrested For Not Being A Terrorist

from the fake-it-til-you-make-it dept

Here in the United States, we’re used to the FBI radicalizing terrorists in order to arrest terrorists. If you don’t have any aspiring terrorist friends, the FBI can set you up with some. Don’t have a plan to do some terror stuff? No problem, the FBI has all kinds of ideas. Low on cash and unable to pick up your own terrorist supplies? Petty cash has you covered, my man. Just looking for a little acceptance? The FBI can fill that void in your life, just before it arrests you and takes that life away.

A string of open net goals by the FBI’s counterterrorism division has left us a bit jaded. We need something new to shake things up a bit. Fortunately, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have stepped up to provide a new twist: arresting and charging someone for [checks news report] not being a terrorist.

A Canadian whose widely-publicized account of conducting executions for ISIS fueled public outrage and debate in the House of Commons has been charged with allegedly making it up.

Shehroze Chaudhry, 25, who has portrayed himself as a former ISIS member living freely in Canada, was charged with faking his involvement in the terrorist group.

Not only is it a crime to be a terrorist in Canada, it’s also a crime to not be one — not if you portray yourself as a terrorist. After invoking all sorts of small-t terror with his pretending to be Jihadist Public Enemy No. 1, Chaudhry found himself arrested on the more seldom-used charge of “terrorism hoax.”

The RCMP apparently doesn’t take kindly to being duped, although it seems any investigation would have discovered Chaudry’s lack of terrorism and allowed the agency to drop him as a suspect and quit wasting tax dollars on him. There’s a hint of bitterness in this statement:

“Hoaxes can generate fear within our communities and create the illusion there is a potential threat to Canadians, while we have determined otherwise,” said stated Superintendent Christopher deGale, who heads the Toronto INSET.

“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.”

I understand things like hoax bomb threats and hoax 911 calls can be taxing on a system that often portrays itself as overstretched. But Chaudry’s faux terrorism was apparently limited to shitposting on a number of social media accounts, talking a good terrorist game while never actually being involved with any terrorism group.

The hoax charge hasn’t been used often, but it appears prosecutors think this time it will stick. After all, not many faux terrorists end up the subject of multiple news reports and podcasts reaching large audiences.

[T]he Crown may intend to argue that, because the hoax was so widespread and was featured on a popular podcast, it created fear that Canadian ISIS members were “returning and running around,” and that police were powerless to stop them.

Implicit in that argument is that Chaudry is being punished for making law enforcement look inept. Moving forward with a prosecution on these charges, however, won’t make them look any less inept. In fact, it will compound the perceived ineptness. First, the RCMP can’t take down real terrorists. Second, the RCMP has to resort to arresting fake terrorists. Adding these two negatives together won’t make them a positive.

But it could be an easy win for the Crown. The best defense against charges of fake terrorism is evidence you’re a real terrorist. Either way, Chaudry is probably screwed. But fake terrorism is only five years in prison. Actual terrorism usual nets a person a whole lot more time behind bars. The best choice may be to agree to be the guy who didn’t actually do anything.

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Comments on “Canadian Man Arrested For Not Being A Terrorist”

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38 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Zero sympathy. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

But the law is about faking terrorism not faking being a terrorist – to charge him under it is an abuse. There is a crucial difference there – terrorism hoaxing is for acts which appear dangerous but aren’t like calling in a fake bomb threat to a 7-11. In this case it is like saying "I once bombed a 7-11." and recycling footage of one blowing up from a gas leak.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Zero sympathy. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

Yes, but there are nuances I would consider. If Fucknuts in the article was making credible threats, he does need to get slapped around a bit. But if it was on the level of "ISIS for DE lulz", then the RCMP should have handled it with a knock and a "you’re being a dipshit, knock it off" visit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Zero sympathy. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

But this isn’t making a terrorist hoax, so you’d agree in this scenario that the law is being misapplied, right?

This is just the opposite of stolen valor – instead of lying about being a veteran, you like about being a terrorist. There might be a fraud charge if he made money off of the claims, but there was no terrorist hoax.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Zero sympathy. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

"But IMO, making terrorist hoaxes should be a crime. The end goal is likely the same. Fear."

It’s a slippery slope but I’ll have to invoke popehat here. If you fuck donkeys and say you’re only pretending to be a donkeyfucker, that still makes you a donkeyfucker. Or in darker terms closer to reality, if you hang around websites spewing racist and/or anti-semitic abuse over people while lauding hitler and the third reich then the proper term for you is nazi. No matter your later-on claims that you were just trolling.

And if you scare people over shit’z’n’giggles by pretending you’re a terrorist then de facto you are a terrorist. Depending on whether you did it to frighten people about the genuine examples of terrorists you may be one de jure as well. Political motivation and all that.

There should probably be a fraud law about that but as I said – slippery slope. It’s all too easy to use to convict the honestly mistaken, the entertainers like HG Wells, and people in more need of therapy than a prison cell.

In an ideal world this would be handled by social or news media investigation followed by headlines of "Extra! Extra! Trolling Asshat <insert name here> Pretending To Be ISIS Terrorist, Gets His Jollies From Being An Asshole Online!"

As we don’t live in an ideal world government instead steps in. I must say I’m torn. On the one hand there’s someone with a likely jail sentence of years for using his free speech. On the other it’s a likely jail sentence for a bona fide troll.

Why must the principled solution always be so damn bitter?

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Zero sympathy. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

He didn’t make a terrorist hoax though. A terrorist hoax is phoning in a bomb threat for a bomb that doesn’t exist.

This guy pretended to be something he is not, and acted out a role on social media. He’s no different than the guy who pretends to be a combat veteran despite never coming within a thousand miles of any fighting while serving in the quartermaster corps.

The only difference with this particular poser is that he managed to make the cops look stupid for believing his act.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Zero sympathy. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

"The only difference with this particular poser is that he managed to make the cops look stupid for believing his act."

Which, according to Canada’s legal definition of "terrorism" could be shoehorned in under "interference or disruption of essential services, facilities or systems" if there wasn’t such a convenient law making pretending to be a terrorist illegal.

I’ll say it again, most anti-terror laws are only intended to lower the burden of proof and widen the range of activities actionable under perfectly fine normal criminal laws.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Should they be punished for being the victims of police abuse?"

Probably not, but bear in mind that four police officers in Ferguson did charge a man with destruction of property for bleeding on their uniforms in 2014.

It’s not a stretch to think some police officers in some jurisdictions would indeed levy a charge against a suspect proven innocent for wasting their time or for committing the crime of contempt for Not Being Guilty.

Melvin Chudwaters says:

A "terrorism hoax" would require that, were the hoax real (and not a hoax) it would be terrorism, would it not?

A bomb hoax requires a fake bomb that people believe to be real (and dangerous). A sasquatch hoax would require a fake sasquatch.

These hoaxes require, at minimum, giving the appearance that the thing being hoaxed do exist… say an empty box that people are warned to not open or it will detonate. Or empty footprints out in the mud.

Thus, unless he’s cranked out some fake terrorism, how can it be a hoax? Claiming that you are a terrorist doesn’t make you such. Especially claiming that you are one in a context where people are routinely understood to be faking/lying/not-telling-the-truth doesn’t make you one. Or else every actor in every terrorist/military/spy thriller would be on the hook.

I know this is Canada and not the US, but were it here I’d say that the prosecutor who sought an indictment for that deserves to lose his license to practice law and a few years in prison for felonious malfeasance.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"A "terrorism hoax" would require that, were the hoax real (and not a hoax) it would be terrorism, would it not?"

Congratulations, you have just discovered a key problem with "terrorism" law.

We already have laws regarding conspiracy and complicitness to commit murder, for instance.
Many terrorist laws have, however, extremely loose suggestions on how they can be invoked.

Here’s the Canadian one;

"In Canada, section 83.01 of the Criminal Code[1] defines terrorism as an act committed "in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause" with the intention of intimidating the public "…with regard to its security, including its economic security, or compelling a person, a government or a domestic or an international organization to do or to refrain from doing any act." Activities recognized as criminal within this context include death and bodily harm with the use of violence; endangering a person’s life; risks posed to the health and safety of the public; significant property damage; and interference or disruption of essential services, facilities or systems."

And here’s the British one;

"According to the British Terrorism Act (2006), terrorism refers to the use and threat of action ""designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public"" and ""made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause."" Similar to the legal definition of terrorism in Canada, violence against people; damage to property; endangerment of life; and risks to the health or safety of the public are the key actions addressed within the Act."

And here the EU one;

"the legal definition of terrorism in the European Union can be found in the EU Framework Decision on Combating Terrorism (2002) which identifies terrorism as activities with the aim of "seriously intimidating a population, or; unduly compelling a government or international organisation to perform or abstain from performing any act, or; seriously destabilising or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organisation." Activities that may be deemed terrorist under this framework include attacks on people resulting in death, kidnapping or hostage taking and extensive destruction to a government or public facility. "

And finally the US one;

" In the United States, terrorism is defined as consisting of activities that "involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State….intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; influence the policy of a government by intimidation; or…affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.""

  • Canada’s department of justice.

Note that Canada and the US specifically have very disturbing definitions on what may constitute a terrorist act.
Canada includes "risks and hazards posed to health and safety", so you can probably make the call that a sufficiently scary and persistent troll may pose a danger to the mental health of citizens.

The US includes something even worse; "…influence the policy of a government by intimidation…".
And that’s what has many of the Trumpftruppen caroling about declaring BLM, for instance, a terrorist group. Even worse the moniker of "Antifa" – which isn’t even a group so much as it is people declaring themselves to be opposed to fascism. That opens the door towards declaring expressed opinion being an act of terrorism in the US.

In Canada, at least, it’s understandable they have a "pretense" law since if they didn’t they might make a case to nail the troll under the actual terrorism law.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Railguns are terrorism

Way back when (circa WWI) terrorism involved targeting civilians rather than military. So when a railgun (that’s a HUGE cannon on train rails) started bombarding Paris from seventy miles away (not able to accurately target anything smaller than Paris), that was a terrorist weapon.

See also the buzzbombs and V2 rockets in WWII, but by then we called it Strategic Warfare targeting the infrastructure that supplied Axis and Allied war machines.

Of course, that’s still terrorism, except we don’t like to call it terrorism when it’s by people we like or against people we hate. We don’t want to call our village-burning drone strikes terrorism except it does exactly the kind of mayhem that Islamist suicide bombers do.

(Similarly, our Strategic Weapons, mostly two-megaton bombs dropped by bombers in a nuclear strike, became weapons of mass destruction when similar devices ended up (hypothetically) in the hands of our enemies. WMD was out of favor by the time the DPRK had a viable nuke.)

We also have been resistant to call attacks by white supremacists terrorism even when it totally was.

Now terrorist is what law enforcement calls people who annoy them that they cannot shoot or arrest. Journalists, FOIA filers, researchers and such, most of whom have no body count, civilian or otherwise.

Also brown-skinned students that have accents. Those are terrorists too.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Railguns are terrorism

It is more than just sad when political eagerness to bolster support for whatever cause they feel compelled to sponsor causes them to dilute words which ought to describe genuine abominations.

Terrorism, CP, Communism, Censorship…have all become hijacked to the point where it’s become too easy to rubberstamp a horrible name over a factual reality not anywhere near the definition of the word.

Terrorism, for instance, means anything from a freedom fighter to a peaceful protestor chanting a slogan someone really does not like.
CP can mean that some 20% sexting teenagers with smartphones now fall into the "producer" category. Or that a swedish chief of police has to beg the supreme court to strike down a law which would have the police forced to waste their efforts going through tens of thousands of manga drawings and classical paintings.
Communism – a theoretical impossibility as stable as most post-transuranic elements in practice – has become conflated with any form of socialism with many arguments now posed which would have paying taxes or having a government be a model of communism.

And apparently for all too many benighted morons, Censorship is when the owner of private property sees fit to tell an unruly patron they are no longer welcome.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Railguns are terrorism

You forget. One of these causes the deaths of civilians while being a Bad Guy. The other is, at worst, Only Following Orders.

And if that difference sometimes feels a bit thin, well, context is everything. Although I’m not sure there’s a proper context you can put "bombing the shit out of an Afghan wedding" which makes it look that much better.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Hmmm...

I don’t like it that this man tried to pass off he was a murderer who beheaded people, and still living freely in Canada, but I’m pretty sure five years or even one year might be a disproportionate sentence for making up a gruesome colorful past.

Not that he’s been convicted yet.

It is interesting that he got an audience. Did any of his wide-publishers actually check to make sure he was who he said he was before publishing?

In the meantime I think Antifa just gave me a promotion.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Hmmm...

"In the meantime I think Antifa just gave me a promotion."

Does that mean you can now call the shots in the global branches of the NWO? Great, I’d like you to do something about the water fluoridation where I’m at, my cat’s begun to quote the communist manifesto at me every time I’m late feeding it. Maybe throttle the dosage just a little bit?

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Is this just a criminal version of a SLAPP suit

"Is it possible the guy is getting charged without any realistic probability of being found guilty just so the experience of it all causes him to knock it off?"

Probably not the intent, no.

Terrorism laws generally stand on very shaky moral ground as it is, often being written with extreme legal ambiguity to conveniently bypass actual burden of proof, mens rea, or even needing to prove that a crime was committed in the first place.

That being the case when a DA hauls out any form of charge with the word "Terrorism" in it there’s a lot of government face in making the charge stick, come hell or high water.

Doesn’t mean the DA’s always win – quite the contrary as numerous judges have stated "Pull the other one, you can’t call THAT an act of terrorism" – but that doesn’t mean they won’t push it as far as they can.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Cavalry

I assume the RCMP make up for lack of horses with mechanized armor and air cavalry?

After Baywatch I’ve just come to assume that any small volunteer neighborhood vigilance service will, sufficiently militarized, come to have attack helicopters, main battle tanks, AWACS and attack submarines, each in the service colors with the emblem ablaze on its nose or tail.

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