Robert Edward "Musa" Cerantonio in detention (police photo)

Robert Edward “Musa” Cerantonio in detention (police photo)

Authorities arrested an Australian Muslim convert who allegedly preaches jihad, during an operation in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, early Friday.

Robert Edward Cerantonio was arrested around 5:30 a.m. in an apartment room he was renting along Airport Road, Brgy. Pajac, around 5:30 a.m., city police chief Senior Supt. Armando Radoc said by phone.

Elements of the Bureau of Immigration, Central Visayas regional police, and city police arrested Cerantonio for “violation of immigration laws,” Radoc said.

Cerantonio had no firearm when he was arrested, Radoc said.

Joean Navarro Montayre, of Candoni, Negros Oriental, was with Cerantonio at the time and was arrested for an estafa case, according to a report from the police’s 7th Regional Intelligence Division (RID-7).

The report labeled Cerantonio as a “person of international interest.”

Cerantonio and Montayre yielded various cellphones, SIM cards, memory cards, flash drives, broadband sticks, cameras, identification cards, passports, two Qur’ans, and other books containing Islamic teachings, according to the report.

Cerantonio was immediately brought to the Bureau of Immigration’s office in Mandaue City after the arrest while Montayre was taken to the Mandaue City Jail, according to the the report.

Cerantonio may be brought to Bureau of Immigration’s office in Manila, as the latter was set for “immediate deportation,” Radoc said.

Cerantonio, a former Catholic who now uses the name Musa, had been posting jihadist teachings and comments on his social media accounts which are followed mostly by Islamic fighters in Iraq and Syria, according to Australian media reports.

He is believed to be a supporter of the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, an off-shoot of the al Qaeda terror network.

ISIS has already captured a third of Iraq and some parts of Syria, and recently declared a caliphate in these areas. (John Roson)

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