Philippines arrests Australian radical over ties to Islamic State

The Philippines on Friday arrested an Australian national with suspected links to foreign Islamist militants after he urged Philippine Muslims on social media sites to support conflicts in Iraq and Syria, recruiting them to go to the Middle East. The arrest is the first known link between Islamist militants in the Southeast Asian nation and foreign jihadists supporting conflicts in the Middle East.

He has been recruiting Filipino Muslims to fight in Iraq and Syria. He has been literally calling for jihad.

A senior Philippines police intelligence official who declined to be named

Heavily-armed SWAT teams with Australian Federal Police surprised Australian Robert Cerantonio, a Muslim convert, before dawn at his apartment near the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in the central Philippines. Philippine police said Cerantonio arrived in the country early in February and began recruiting for the Islamic State (IS). Earlier this month, Cerantonio posted messages on social media claiming he had travelled to the region where IS has declared a caliphate, or Muslim state, in parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq. Cerantonio will be deported back to Australia after his passport was cancelled by Australian authorities.

We don’t believe he actually left the Philippines. Nor did he go to the Middle East. The grounds for the arrest is something we are still working through with our Filipino colleagues.

Australia Federal Police Deputy Commissioner National Security Andrew Colvin