Heavily-armed Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams with Australian Federal Police surprised Robert Cerantonio, a Muslim convert, before dawn at his apartment near the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in the central Philippines.
“He has been recruiting Filipino Muslims to fight in Iraq and Syria,” a senior police intelligence official, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the press, told Reuters.Â “He has been literally calling for jihad. But we’re still validating reports that some Filipino Muslims have responded to his call to arms. His activities here caught the attention of the Australian Federal Police and they alerted us.”
Police said Cerantonio has arrived in the Philippines early in February and began recruiting for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). He also travelled to Basilan and Sulu in the country’s south, preaching radical Islam to support Syria and Iraq.
Several videos surfaced recently on YouTube of Philippine Islamist militants making statements in Arabic and Tagalog dialect in support of ISIS. Some of the videos were shot inside a police prison in the capital, Manila.
Cerantonio will be deported back to Australia after his passport was cancelled by Australian authorities, said Conrado Capa, Cebu’s deputy regional police chief.