An Islamic State defector who sparked a storm about whether those who join the terrorist group should be allowed to return to Australia has denounced the slaughter of innocent civilians and told of his wish to rejoin his Melbourne family.
Adam Brookman, a father of five, said he was forced to join the group when he travelled to Syria to provide aid early last year.
Speaking exclusively to Fairfax Media from Turkey, Mr Brookman said he fled to the country from Syria after seeing the aftermath of Islamic State atrocities, including people being crucified.
“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.”
Mr Brookman married into a devout Islamic family based in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
He had worked as a nurse in Victoria, and provided humanitarian aid before travelling to Syria, including an Indonesian orphanage.
“I never went there to fight, I went there as a nurse. I support the struggle of the Syrian people.
“What I saw was Syria being ignored by the international community, I thought I could help.”
Mr Brookman said he was working in a Syrian clinic when it was bombed. He was injured, and taken to a hospital that was under the control of Islamic State.
“After I recovered they wouldn’t let me leave.”
He said he never committed an act of violence, and that witnessing the aftermath of public executions motivated him to flee.
He witnessed the aftermath of a crucifixion of a man suspected of spying for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, but said he did not “necessarily” oppose the punishment.
He said the concern was whether the man was guilty.
“I myself agree with capital punishment, which they also have in the United States.
“I don’t agree with innocent people being executed.”
Mr Brookman’s views about issues such as capital punishment are unlikely to be surprising to security sources, who said his story should be viewed sceptically.
The sources say Mr Brookman must have known there was a strong chance he would end up aiding terrorist groups, even if it was only by providing medical attention to wounded fighters.
Several other Melbourne men who travelled to Syria in 2012 and 2013 also claimed to have been doing aid work, but were lauded on online jihadist forums after their deaths.
Those men were believed to have fought for the Free Syrian Army or Jabhat al-Nusra, but Islamic State had taken hold of significant areas of Syria and Iraq by the time Mr Brookman travelled to Syria via Turkey.
Some of the other men claiming to travel for aid work had attended Preston mosque, as had Mr Brookman.
Mr Brookman accepts that he will be investigated, but does not think he should be charged with terrorism offences.
Returning jihadists could face up to 25 years prison if found to have fought with a prescribed terror group, or found to have been in areas of Syria and Iraq banned under new anti-terror laws.
“Of course there will be an investigation, that is fine … [but] I don’t think I’ve done anything illegal.”
He said he was terrified that he would be executed if he was caught fleeing Syria, and terribly misses his children.
Mr Brookman’s wife, who did not wish to be identified, said her children needed their father.
“The youngest was only two months old when he left, and we just want him home.
“All he has ever done is aid work, we don’t understand why the AFP won’t talk to us.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Tuesday that anyone who returns to Australia after fighting for Islamic State the men would be “arrested, prosecuted and jailed”, because they could easily “become a terrorist in Australia”.
Three men, including Mr Brookman, are believed to be negotiating a return to Australia after being involved with Islamic State or Jabhat al-Nusra.
Robert Stary, Mr Brookman’s lawyer, said he could assist in de-radicalising others if he was allowed back into Australia.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Guiyang Sauna Net.