The government will do everything it can to ensure Australians don’t become radicalised overseas and bring their extremist views back home, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says.
Her comments came after it was reported that an Australian convert to Islam who has previously urged Muslims to join “jihad” in Syria and Iraq had been arrested in the Philippines.
Melbourne man Robert Edward “Musa” Cerantonio, 29, faces deportation to Australia.
He was reportedly arrested at the request of the Australian government after footage on his website showed him calling on Muslims to join the war in Iraq and Syria.
Ms Bishop refused to comment specifically about Cerantonio to avoid jeopardising the work of Philippine authorities.
But she said reports of Australian citizens getting involved with radicals and fighting overseas were disturbing.
“We are determined to ensure that Australians do not leave this country to take up fighting in another country, become radicalised and then return to Australia with these new skills and extremist outlooks,” she told reporters in Brisbane.
“We are taking every step we can to ensure that Australians are kept safe.”
Cerantonio has been detained in the central Philippine city of Cebu where regional police commander Prudencio Banas claimed he would be deported as an illegal alien after Canberra cancelled his passport.
Mr Banas said there “no evidence linking him to any terror act”.
The Australian Federal Police have confirmed the arrest of the 29-year-old but will neither confirm nor deny whether they are conducting their own investigation.
“The AFP is aware that Philippine authorities have taken action in relation to Musa Cerantonio, which may result in his return to Australia,” the AFP said in a statement.
A federal government spokeswoman said she was aware Cerantonio had been detained but would not comment further.
Cerantonio was detained in the central Philippine city of Cebu on Friday, said Superintendent Conrado Capa, the region’s deputy police chief.
“In one broadcast on his website, he called on brother Muslims to join the war in Iraq and Syria,” Capa said.
The Philippines has a large Muslim minority in the southern region of Mindanao, a hotbed for a decades-old Muslim insurgency and where Islamic militants linked to al-Qaeda also operate.
Police said they had been monitoring his activities since February when he arrived in Cebu, the country’s largest metropolis outside Manila.
He lived with a Filipina and moved around Cebu until his arrest at a one-room apartment near the airport.
The 32-year-old woman was wanted by police over an unrelated fraud case and was also arrested on Friday, Capa said.
A report in The Australian newspaper in June described Cerantonio as a preacher and “one of (the Islamic State’s) most influential propagandists”.
The newspaper said Cerantonio called for the assassination of Western leaders in a Facebook post in December, and that a study had found one in four foreign fighters in Syria followed his Twitter account.