Arrest of alleged Pinoy terrorist shocks neighbors

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Nov 22 2012 12:55 PM | Updated as of Nov 23 2012 05:42 AM

ONTARIO, CA – A Filipino-American accused of being a homegrown terrorist lived with his parents and two siblings in their rented home for about three years, according to his neighbors.

Ralph Kenneth De Leon and two other men were arrested during a Federal Bureau of Investigation raid in De Leon's home last week.

The FBI believes De Leon and two of his friends had converted to Islam and were in the process of joining a terrorist group in Afghanistan so they can allegedly carry out jihad against Americans.

Charlie Mora and his family live across the street from the De Leons and attends school with De Leon's younger brother. He describes De Leon and his siblings as friendly and quiet. He said the parents mostly kept to themselves.

“He was nice. He would say hi to me sometimes. I didn’t think he had anything to do with terrorism. It's kind of a shock because I would talk to him but I didn't know if his brother was into such things. So I guess it kind of gives us an insecure feeling too because my mom would talk to him and I would too,” said Mora.

De Leon was often seen exercising and jogging throughout the streets. FBI affidavits would eventually reveal that De Leon was getting in shape so he could join the Taliban.

“They were a good family I guess, like any other. Nothing out of the ordinary. He would run in the morning everyday. He was very fit,” said Mora.

Prior to Friday's arrest, Mora said neighbors had noticed what seemed to be increased police activity.

“I noticed that cops kept coming frequently, more than usual, and I noticed there would be a lady that's parked and a guy that parked there and they weren't from our neighborhood because everybody here knew each other,” he said.

“I thought they were neighbors but they were FBI agents too. They were keeping watch I guess. Yesterday a car stayed there too, it had a lot of gadgets and was an ugly car,” he added.

Mora said De Leon's parents have only been coming in and out in the evening and he hasn't spoken to De Leon's brother for several months.

De Leon, who remains in Federal custody, is scheduled to appear in court on December 3.