MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — An Australian nurse who says he was forced by Islamic State militants to work as a medic in Syria did not apply for bail when he appeared in a court in his hometown of Melbourne on Monday charged with supporting a terrorist group.
Adam Brookman, 39, voluntarily returned to Australia from Turkey on Friday. Brookman has told media that he was able to escape from Syria after winning Islamic State militants’ trust by working for them in a hospital controlled by the group at al-Bab in Aleppo province.
He appeared briefly in the Melbourne Magistrates Court charged with performing services to help someone engage in a hostile activity in a foreign country. He is also charged with supporting a terrorist organization, namely the Islamic State group. The charges carry maximum prison sentences of 20 years and 15 years respectively.
His lawyer Rob Stary told Magistrate Jelena Popovic that his client would not apply for bail.
Brookman did not enter pleas or speak during his court appearance.
Popovic remanded Brookman in custody until Nov. 16, while prosecutors compile a case against him.
Stary told reporters outside court that police did not consider the Muslim convert and father of five a threat in Australia.
Brookman surrendered to Turkish authorities in Turkey last Tuesday and returned with an Australian police escort to Sydney where he was arrested.
He is the first Australian involved with the Islamic State movement known to have returned home since the Sunni fighters swept into western Iraq in June last year and declared the establishment of a caliphate.
Brookman told Fairfax Media in May that he went to Syria last year to do humanitarian work for civilians caught in the war. He said he was innocent of any crime and was forced to join Islamic State militants after being injured in an airstrike and taken to a hospital controlled by the group.
“After I recovered, they wouldn’t let me leave,” he told Fairfax.
Brookman told Fairfax that he opposed the violent and extreme actions of the militants, including the beheading of their captives.
Australians have joined the fight for and against Islamic State jihadis at home and in the Middle East.
The suspected weapons supplier for an alleged Islamic State-inspired plot to attack a Veterans’ Day ceremony in April that included targeting police officers pleaded guilty in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday to 22 charges.
Mehran Azami, 19, was one of five teenagers arrested in pre-dawn raids around Melbourne over the foiled plot.
Azami on Monday admitted importing from China more than 200 prohibited weapons including switch blades, knuckle dusters and electroshock devices disguised as smart phones. He will appear in Victorian County Court in October.
Meanwhile, about 500 Kurdish Australians gathered in Melbourne on Sunday for the funeral of Reece Harding, a 23-year-old Australian who stepped on a land mine last month in Syria where he had been fighting Islamic State militants with Kurdish forces for two months.