Father of suspected Fil-Am terrorist speaks out
ONTARIO, CA (UPDATED) - With a wooden board holding up the front door as a result of a Federal Bureau of Investigation raid, the family of Ralph Kenneth DeLeon, the Filipino man accused of terrorism, is at home, still trying to cope with their son's arrest.
As the DeLeon family continues to deal with the accusations that 23-year-old Ralph was allegedly trying to join an Afghanistan terror group, his father declined to have his face shown, and give his first name.
"Nag umpisa ito noong Biyernes ng umaga. Nag iba na yung buhay namin. As a normal typical family in America, suddenly nagbago noong natanggap ko yung call ng anak ko na my son was arrested that same morning and the authorities were here at home and I have to be home so i decided to go home right away. When I reached home, the FBI agents were here," DeLeons' father.
A room once decorated with Islamic posters is now empty with thumb tacks on a wall as Federal agents raided Ralph's room. According to the father, the agents took clothes, pictures, and books that dealt with Islam, as well as computers.
Investigators did leave behind pictures of a high school Ralph as an athlete and homecoming court member--the Ralph that his father knew and not the aspiring terrorist as depicted by a confidential informant's investigation.
The DeLeons moved from Laguna to the US in 2002. At the age of 13, Ralph graduated elementary at La Salle Zobel.
"Famous siya sa eskwela kasi very sociable siya, very likeable, ang dami niyang kaibigan. As a matter of fact, officer pa siya ng student council at siya ay member ng high school football team, maganda ang grades niya. So nung nabalitaan talaga maraming nagtatanong bakit? Totoo ba yun? Maraming gustong malaman kung anong nangyari kasi kami talaga gulat na gulat din. Na shock kami," He said.
Mr. Deleon, a carehome administrator, says, Ralph who was raised Catholic, became interested in the Islamic faith in 2010. Though it became a subject of household debate, the family decided to respect each other's beliefs and never spoke about religion inside the house.
Despite the affidavit claiming Ralph had ventured into extremism and begun plotting jihad, the family only noticed positive effects of the Islamic faith.
“Maski masaki sa magulang, nirespeto ko yung paniniwala niya sa different ng religion na gusto namin sa kanya. It became actually good for him kasi nag-iba outlook niya, very peaceful siya. Yung mga typical teenager uuwi-uwi ng gabi. Hindi ngayon. Maaga sya umuuwi. Madalas sya nagbabasa ng kanilang Koran,” he said.
Ralph, along with his two friends, was arrested just days before their supposed flight to Afghanistan where they would meet a fourth suspect that would help them join a terror group.
Ralph never spoke to his father about flying to the Middle East. They were looking forward to his college graduation next month.
Instead of a college graduation, the DeLeon family must now watch their-high school hero-turned suspected terrorist go through court proceedings.
Due to strict visiting guidelines, Mr. DeLeon has only visited Ralph once since the arrest. The Philippine Consulate has also paid him a visit in prison to check on his well being.