By: REUTERS AND STAFF
The Philippines has become the latest country to kick out a controversial Canadian cleric whose orthodox Islamic teachings made him unwelcome in Britain, Germany, Australia and Kenya.
Bilal Philips lectures in the United Arab Emirates, but he regularly appears at events in Canada and was last year the imam of a Toronto mosque.
Philippine officials say he was reported to be “inciting and recruiting locals to conduct terrorist activities,” a top immigration official said on Wednesday.
Siegfred Mison, head of the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration, said Mr. Philips, would be deported within the week after the bureau filed a complaint that he was an undesirable individual.
Police said Mr. Philips was also barred from entering the United States and Australia because his activities were considered a threat to national security.
Mr. Philips is a controversial figure who has repeatedly made headlines, though he has never been charged. Born in Jamaica and raised in Toronto, he was a Communist while in university in Vancouver before converting to Islam in 1972 and studying in Saudi Arabia.
Philippine officials said Mr. Philips is a resident of Dubai but, for about six to seven months in 2012-13, he was the acting imam at Toronto’s Abu Huraira Center. At the time, he was visiting Toronto and was forced to remain in Canada because federal officials delayed his passport renewal while they investigated him, according to an interview he gave to the National Post.
He was in the news because British bombing suspect Muktar Said Ibrahim read from one of his pamphlets. Mr. Philips also says his phone number was in the address book of a man convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. This, he says, explains why his name is among those in a lengthy list of unindicted people linked by U.S. prosecutors to the World Trade Center case.
A U.S. congressional committee heard in 2006 that Mr. Philips mentored Ali Al-Timimi, a Virginia man convicted in 2005 of inciting terrorism. The panel also heard that, during the first Persian Gulf War, Mr. Philips ran a program to convert American soldiers posted in Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Philips says allegations that he supports terrorism or that his writings are an inspiration for terrorists are a form of guilt by association. Supporters say that he is considered a senior scholar among English-speaking Imams.
Mr. Philips has also been accused of being homophobic. He says that gays should be punished by death in countries governed by Islamic law. German authorities accused him of inciting hatred against gays when they expelled him in 2011 following a speech in Frankfurt.
In the latest incident, police in the the Philippines started questioning Mr. Philips in southern Davao City on Sunday, a few days after his arrival, Mr. Mison said, adding that the Canadian had been due to travel to the city of Zamboanga, also in the south, to give a lecture to Muslims there.
“Based on various sources of information, he was supposed to be inciting and recruiting people to conduct terrorist activities,” Mr. Mison told reporters, but gave no details of the sources.
“He was also barred from entry into Germany and other European states for his activities,” Mr. Mison added. “Right now, he is in the custody of the police. He is blacklisted.”
He said Mr. Philips was the second foreign national to be deported over alleged links with Islamist militants, after an Australian Islamic preacher caught last July in Cebu in the central Philippines.
The Philippines has been checking raw intelligence reports that about 100 Muslims in the predominantly Muslim south had left the country in response to the global calls of Islamist militants to fight for Iraq and Syria.