An Australian nurse who voluntarily returned home from Syria after allegedly supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group faces up to 25 years’ in prison after being charged with terrorism offences.
Adam Brookman, 39, faced a Melbourne court on Sunday after surrendering himself to officials in Turkey on Tuesday, Australian Federal Police said.
He is the first Australian known to have returned home from ISIL-controlled territory.
Brookman, who arrived back in Australia on Friday night, was charged with one count of knowingly providing support to a terrorist organisation, which carries a maximum jail time of 25 years.
The father of five faces up to 10 years in prison for a second charge of performing services with the intention of supporting a person, or persons, to engage in a hostile activity in a foreign state.
“Matters such as this ultimately concern community safety, and we make no apology in taking action against people who may bring a radicalised ideology, and potentially other skills, back to Australia,” Neil Gaughan, assistant commissioner for Australian Federal Police, said in a statement.
“There is no evidence of a threat in Australia in this instance, and the ongoing safety of the community was the primary factor in all of the arrangements made to facilitate this individual’s return to Australia.”
Brookman made no application for bail in his brief appearance in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court and was remanded in custody for a hearing on Monday.
In an interview with Australia’s Fairfax Media in May, Brookman said he first travelled to Syria to perform humanitarian work, but had been forced to join ISIL when he was injured in an air strike and treated at a hospital controlled by the armed group, north of Aleppo.
Brookman said he had been hiding in Turkey after fleeing from Syria last December.
“I don’t agree with what they do at all,” he told Fairfax.
“I don’t agree with their kidnapping, with their dealings with other Muslim groups, and especially after they started executing journalists and other innocent civilians.”
“I never went there to fight, I went there as a nurse. I support the struggle of the Syrian people.”
It is not clear whether Brookman was still in Syria on December 4, 2014, when Australia made being in Raqqa a crime punishable by 10 years in prison.
New security laws
The Australian government has been increasingly concerned about the flow of fighters to Iraq and Syria to join groups such as ISIL.
It says 120 Australians are in the region with 160 supporting armed groups at home.
Australia raised the terror threat level to high in September, and has conducted several counterterrorism raids in various cities since then.
The government has also passed a number of national security laws and last month introduced legislation to strip dual nationals of their Australian citizenship for terrorism links. It is not clear whether Brookman is a dual national.
The charges against Brookman came as the parents of 23-year-old Reece Harding, from the Gold Coast, prepared to say farewell to their son in a Kurdish funeral service in Melbourne.
Harding died after he stepped on a landmine while fighting with Kurdish forces against ISIL in Syria.