Australian Daesh nurse returning from Syria may face arrest

Published July 24th, 2015 - 09:55 GMT

An Australian nurse who claims he was forced to aid Daesh in Syria is expected to be arrested by Australian police following his return Friday.

Adam Brookman, a Melbourne resident and father-of-five, reportedly travelled to Syria in early 2014 to offer his medic skills to aid people in the conflict-torn country, where a civil war has been raging since 2011.

Upon his return, Brookman may face charges under a law passed last year that bans Australian citizens from traveling to Iraq’s Mosul and Syria’s Raqqa province, unless they have a “legitimate purpose” for being there.

Since last year, Australia has been concerned about its nationals joining or supporting groups fighting in the Middle East and the impact it could have on the country in case of their return. Last month, Prime Minister Tony Abbott introduced a controversial law under which Australian dual nationals suspected of involvement in “terrorism” can be stripped of citizenship.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed Friday that it had arranged the return of Brookman, who faces several investigations but has not been charged so far after voluntarily surrendering to the AFP.

"If there is evidence an Australian has committed a criminal offence under Australia law while involved in the conflict in Syria and Iraq, they will be charged and put before the courts," ABC News quoted an AFP spokesperson as saying.

Lawyers representing Brookman have been negotiating with the AFP about his return since April, the broadcaster reported.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop refused to provide details about the case Friday, but said law enforcement and intelligence agencies considered Brookman a person of interest.

“Any Australian who is in Al-Raqqa province in Syria or in Mosul in Iraq without a legitimate reason is committing an offence against Australian law and any Australian who takes up arms with these terrorist organizations or fights overseas is committing a crime against Australian law,” The Australian quoted her as saying.

“Under our sanctions regime it is an offence to fight in… Syria in particular and nobody should be under any misapprehension that if they are involved in the conflict on either side, they have the potential to be committing crimes against Australian law.”

According to Bishop, several Australians overseas directly or indirectly contacted the federal police.

Brookman had told Fairfax Media that he had been injured in an airstrike and sent to a Daesh-controlled hospital, which he was prohibited from leaving.

He said he fled to Turkey in December after witnessing atrocities by the extremist group.

"I don't agree with what they do at all," he said. "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."

Brookman underlined, however, his support for “the struggle of the Syrian people."

"What I saw was Syria being ignored by the international community, I thought I could help," he told Fairfax.

© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

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