The New York Times has retracted the core of its hit 2018 podcast series Caliphate after an internal review found the paper failed to heed red flags indicating that the man it relied upon for its narrative about the allure of terrorism could not be trusted to tell the truth.
The newspaper has reassigned its star terrorism reporter, Rukmini Callimachi, who hosted the series.
Caliphate relayed the tale about the radicalization of a young Canadian who went to Syria, joined the Islamic State and became an executioner for the extremist group before escaping its hold.
Canadian authorities this fall accused the man, Shehroze Chaudhry, of lying about those activities. He currently faces criminal charges in a federal court in Ontario of perpetrating a terrorism hoax.
“We fell in love with the fact that we had gotten a member of ISIS who would describe his life in the caliphate and would describe his crimes,” New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet tells NPR in an interview on Thursday. “I think we were so in love with it that when we saw evidence that maybe he was a fabulist, when we saw evidence that he was making some of it up, we didn’t listen hard enough.”