On September 25, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested a Canadian man for faking his involvement in the Islamic State. It’s a strange charge, but the situation is made more complicated by the fact that the man—who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Huzayfah—was the primary subject of “Caliphate” a popular New York Times podcast series about the Islamic State. In that series, Abu Huzayfah talked at length about spending time with the Islamic State and rehashed in great detail his involvement in the executions of prisoners detained by the group. It’s a complicated set of facts with a lot to unpack. Do we have any real sense of what happened? What features of the Canadian national security apparatus might have contributed to the bizarre situation? And what does the whole ordeal reveal about the challenges and pitfalls of telling stories about the war on terror?
To talk through everything, Jacob Schulz spoke with Leah West, a lecturer at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University and a fellow at the McCain Institute, and Amarnath Amarasingam, an assistant professor in the School of Religion at Queen’s University.