WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Philippine government was granted access to Filipino-born US permanent resident Ralph Kenneth De Leon, 23, who is detained in California for his alleged involvement in a foiled terror plot that sought to kill Americans and bomb U.S. bases abroad, including the Philippines.
“De Leon appeared well despite being held in solitary confinement. Consul [Charmaine] Chua was also able to talk by phone to De Leon’s father and court-appointed lawyer,” said Manila’s Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia Jr in a statement.
De Leon was charged, along with 3 others, with “conspiring to provide material support to terrorists” who plan to attack targets in the Philippines, Afghanistan, and Palestine. Preliminary hearing is scheduled on December 3.
His co-accused are: Miguel Santana, Arifeen Gojali and Sohiel Kabir.
Consul Charmaine Serna-Chua of Philippine Consular Office in Los Angeles was given “consular access” to De Leon at the San Bernardino Sheriff Central Detention Center late Wednesday afternoon, November 22, U.S. time, according to Cuisia.
De Leon migrated to the United States in 2003. He is still a Philippine citizen and a holder of a valid Philippine passport.
Terror plot in Philippines
Cuisia said they are gathering more information on the alleged terror plot in the Philippines. At the same time, they are making sure that De Leon’s rights are protected.
“The embassy and the Consulate General in Los Angeles are working closely with American authorities to get more information about the reported terrorist plot and to ensure that the rights of Mr. De Leon, a Philippine national, are protected,” he said.
“The embassy is hoping to receive more details about the reported terrorist plot from the FBI, particularly the plans of the suspects to mount attacks against US targets in the Philippines,” reads the statement.
Police Attache Chief Supt Armando Ramolete has requested the Federal Bureau of Investigation to provide the Embassy with additional information about the terrorist plot.
The four were planning to engage in “violent jihad,” an earlier CBS News report quoted FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.
De Leon converted to Islam in 2010 and has since been actively involved in jihad discussions online, the report added. He also supposedly used Facebook to post his extremist views and joined Skype conversations to arrange meetings with terrorists.
FBI undercover agents were able to join their online conversations. De Leon himself told an FBI source that “he wanted to be on the front lines overseas and use C-4, an explosive, in an attack,” according to the CBS News report.
De Leon and his colleague were “excited about the rewards from becoming a shaheed, which is Arabic for martyr,” the report further reads.
De Leon and 2 others were arrested by the FBI on Sunday, November 18. They were reportedly trying to leave the US for Afghanistan to join the Al Qaeda and the Taliban. A 4th suspect was arrested in Afghanistan. – Rappler.com