SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian nurse was charged on Sunday with terrorism offences for allegedly supporting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group in Syria, after he voluntarily returned home from the war-torn country.
The 39-year-old Melbourne father of five, named in local media as Islamic convert Adam Brookman, briefly faced a Melbourne court on Sunday after surrendering to officials in Turkey on Tuesday, Australian Federal Police said.
Brookman, who arrived back in Australia on Friday night, was charged with one count of knowingly providing support to a terrorist organisation, ISIS, which carries a maximum jail time of 25 years.
He 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,” Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan, national manager for counter-terrorism with the 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 did not apply for bail in his brief appearance at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court and was remanded in custody for a hearing on Monday.
He told Fairfax Media in an interview in the past week he carried out humanitarian work in Syria and was forced to join the jihadist group after being injured and sent to ISIS-controlled territory.
Brookman added that he eventually fled the militants and was hiding out in Turkey and wanting to return home.
- Concerns about Australian fighters -
The Australian government has been increasingly concerned about the flow of fighters to Iraq and Syria to join extremist groups such as ISIS, saying some 120 Australians are in the region with 160 militants at home supporting them.
Canberra raised the terror threat level to high in September, and has conducted several counter-terrorism 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 family of 23-year-old Reece Harding, from the Gold Coast, said farewell to their son at a Kurdish funeral service in Melbourne.
Hundreds of mourners gathered at a community centre to pay tribute to Harding, who died after he stepped on a landmine while fighting with Kurdish forces against ISIS in Syria.
His coffin was carried into the service draped with the flags of Australia and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, while mourners chanted “A martyr never dies, they live on through us", the Australian Associated Press reported.
“I just want you to know that I will carry on what Reece tried to do,” Harding’s mother Michelle told the mourners.
“It makes things a little bit easier, losing Reece, that we now understand the difference with the Kurdish nation and we understand a bit more about what a noble, respectful, kind people you are. I truly thank you.”