The New York Times is retracting the core of its highly acclaimed podcast series about ISIS, after the man the program relied upon was deemed telling false stories of his participation in the notorious terrorist group.
First released in 2018, the 12-episode podcast "Caliphate" featured the tale of Shehroze Chaudhry, a Canadian national who claimed to have been radicalized to become a jihadist. In 2016, Chaudhry claimed to join ISIS under the name Abu Huzayfah in Syria, where he allegedly performed at least two executions on the terrorist group's behalf before his departure.
The podcast series, hosted by Rukmini Callimachi, The NY Times' star reporter on terrorism, was met with immediate success. It made it into the finalists of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize Awards, and won a Peabody Award, one of the highest honors in the field of broadcast journalism.
The growing popularity of "Caliphate," however, drew the attention of Canadian authorities.
In response, Chaudhry came forward to deny any involvement in the execution-style killings of innocent civilians that he once described to Callimachi and The NY Times in detail. He was arrested this September for lying about his participation in ISIS, which is punishable by at least five years of imprisonment under Canada's terrorism hoax law.
Despite the said issues, The NY Times is not going to remove "Caliphate" from its website or podcast mobile apps. Instead, the company is affixing audio corrections to the episodes and releasing one additional episode about those corrections, alongside the editors' note.
"She's going to take on a new beat, and she and I are discussing possibilities," said Dean Baquet, executive editor of The NY Times. "I think it's hard to continue covering terrorism after what happened with this story. But I think she's a fine reporter."