Three of the most important Islamic spiritual authorities in the West are Australian Musa Cerantonio, British Anjem Choudary, and American Ahmad Musa Jibril. These three have been instrumental in encouraging jihadis to join ISIS by spreading the same fundamental Islamist message that ISIS adheres to.
Australian Musa Cerantonio was born into an Italian Catholic family as Robert Cerantonio. He claims he converted to Islam after a visit to the Vatican left him disillusioned with Catholicism. After his conversion he traveled to study Islam in Cairo with his school class at the age of 17. His status as a Western convert helped him to become popular on Islamic satellite television programs, which gave Cerantonio a global audience.
His most popular platform, other than his television programs, was Facebook. At times, he was critical of the terrorist group, ISIS, but he also referred to the group “as the best forces on the ground in Syria.” Cerantonio called for war against the United States. “If we see that Muslims are being killed by the tyrant leaders of the USA then we must first stop them with our hands (i.e. by force). This means that we should stop them by fighting them, by assassinating their oppressive leaders, by weakening their offensive capabilities etc. …This is not something that is beyond us at all.”
Cerantonio’s Facebook page was eventually taken down, but at the time it was removed he had about 12,000 subscribers. In 2014, he used a Twitter account to announce that he was traveling to Syria to join ISIS. After he tweeted that he had arrived in the Middle East to join with the terror group, he was actually discovered to have been living in the Philippines for about a year.
Australian authorities cancelled his Australian passport, which left him without proper travel documentation so he was arrested and deported to Australia. He had kept a low profile until May 15, 2016 when he was arrested with four other men for making preparations for incursion into foreign countries (ISIS controlled areas) for the purpose of engaging in hostile activities.
An article about Cerantonio in The Sydney Morning Herald interviewed the jihadi and his family. The reporter said, “My routine explanation for why young me fall into dangerous situations doesn’t apply to Musa. He has a loving family. His parents didn’t separate until after he converted. He still sees his dad. He wasn’t an outcast at school. Bright, popular, good at sports, handsome.”
Cerantonio explained why he converted to Islam when he visited the Vatican. “”I mean, looking at the Sistine Chapel, seeing this old man with a beard, and they’re telling me that’s the God they worship? I’m like, ‘The Ten Commandments says you shouldn’t make images of God.’ I realized when we’d pray back in primary school, we’d say, ‘Holy Mary, mother of God’, and I was sort of like, ‘Hold on a moment. Mother of God? God doesn’t have a mother.’ And I was like, … this is pretty weird.’ I realized that the Catholic Church were absolute nut-jobs.”
Many Western Christians like Cerantonio may identify themselves as Christians, but they do not understand what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Pray for a move of God throughout the Church where those who have only a “cultural” knowledge of God will have a supernatural encounter with Him.