IS ‘mentor’ to accused
Court told of Melbourne man’s link to terror
A KEY Islamic State spokesman is the jihadi mentor of an alleged Melbourne extremist.
Notorious hate preacher Robert “Musa” Cerantonio referred to a shadowy Islamic State figure known as Yahya Abu Hassan as his “teacher and mentor.”
It has been revealed “Yahya” is American convert John Georgelas and he and Mr Cerantonio were in contact before the Melbourne man’s arrest in May for foreign incursion offences.
Mr Cerantonio and five other men were charged after they were stopped north of Cairns allegedly towing a boat to Cape York, which they would then use to smuggle themselves to jihadi groups in Asia, it was alleged.
It is not clear if Mr Cerantonio’s co-accused were in touch with the American Yahya but at least two other Australians are known to have been in contact with the senior Islamic State figure.
As Australian Federal Police investigators monitored Mr Cerantonio for 10 months before he fled to Queensland, investigators captured several conversations where Mr Cerantonio would talk about his mentor Yahya.
In a Melbourne Magistrates’ Court bail application for a co-accused, the Australian Federal Police statement of facts listed alleged intercepted conversations between Mr Cerantonio and Yahya in his Syrian bolthole in May 2015.
The American used encrypted messaging services, which were recovered from Mr Cerantonio’s phone, to record a message where he vouched for another man in Syria who had been in contact with Mr Cerantonio. “Brother I just wanted to let you know that he is a good brother and an old friend of mine,” the message said.
A few months later in October Mr Cerantonio allegedly tried to call Syrian phone numbers attributed to Yahya but when he could not get through the AFP allege Mr Cerantonio had told his friends he feared his “teacher” had been killed.
In another intercepted conversation in December 2015, Mr Cerantonio told Sydney psychologist Hanan Dover that his “friend and teacher” had survived heavy bombing but two others had been killed.
Yahya met Mr Cerantonio and other Australians through online jihadi forums, although both men had lived in Egypt.
Yahya, a Texas native and Islamic convert, has reportedly written a number of articles for Islamic State’s key propaganda magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah.
He learnt classic Arabic while in Syria before the war.
In December Islamic State announced its new spokesman, who took over from Abu Muhammad al-Adnani who was killed in a drone strike in August, was Abu al-Hassan alMuhajir.
The name is an active alias of John Georgelas or Yahya.
Robert ‘Musa’ Cerantonio