Australian ringleader of plot to wage jihad in Mindanao gets seven years

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Robert “Musa” Cerantonio was the ringleader of the so-called “tinny terrorists”.

The Melbourne ringleader of a plot to sail from Australia to wage jihad in the Philippines has been sentenced to seven years behind bars.

Islamic State supporter Robert “Musa” Cerantonio and five other men hatched a scheme to sail a seven-metre “tinny” boat from Queensland to Mindanao in 2016.

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Cerantonio pleaded guilty to “engaging in conduct in preparation for hostile activities”. He was sentenced today (Friday, May 3) by supreme court justice Michael Croucher. He has already spent nearly three years in custody.

Justice Croucher said Cerantonio’s role in sharing his “putrid ideas” was deserving of a greater punishment than the other men, who were influenced by him.

As we reported in February, his co-accused – Murat Kaya, Kadir Kaya, Paul Dacre, Antonio Granata and Shayden Thorne – have already been jailed.

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Justie Croucher described Cerantonio, aged 34, as “obviously intelligent”. However, he said: “He intended to use his considerable gifts for evil, not for good.”

Cerantonio’s lawyer, Jarrod Williams, said his client did not fit the typical role of an Islamic extremist, and enjoyed music by AC/DC, Cold Chisel, Johnny Cash, Paul Simon and Rammstein. “This is a man who doesn’t always fit the profile of an Islamic extremist,” he said.

He had spent a year living in the Philippines before he was deported in 2014 and had publicly preached support for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and advocated for sharia law.

Cerantonio was brought up as a Christian and had converted to Islam at the age of 17.

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The ‘tinny’ fishing boat the men are accused of planning to sail to the Philippines. Inset, Robert “Musa” Cerantonio.

The Melbourne men purchased a boat and a four-wheel drive vehicle to tow it to Cape York in the north of Australia. From their they planned to sail to the Philippines and wage jihad.

However, they were intercepted before they could set sail in what Justice Croucher said was a trip “foredoomed to failure”.

“It’s hard to imagine they would have made it very far past the breakers,” he said.

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