It was on his alleged return from the Syrian war zone in late 2015 when authorities ramped up their investigation into young Sydney father Belal Betka.
Some 10 months beforehand, the Minister for Foreign Affairs had declared the Syrian province al-Raqqa as an area where a listed terrorist organisation was engaging in hostile activity.
Commonwealth legislation made it illegal for any n to be in a “declared area”.
And for two years after Betka first arrived home, the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team – comprising of representatives from state and federal police, the n Security Intelligence Organisation and NSW Crime Commission – continued the in-depth investigation into allegations of money laundering and proceeds of crime being used to help fund terrorist organisations.
One branch of the investigation saw three men, including 26-year-old Fouad Moussa, arrested in raids in October and charged with money laundering after more than $1 million was allegedly seized.
Then on Tuesday, investigators swooped on Betka at the Mount Lewis home he shared with his mother and took him into custody.
Betka, now aged 25, would become the first person in to be charged with “foreign incursion offences”, including that he entered Syria with the intention of engaging in hostile activities, a offence carrying a maximum of life imprisonment, and entering or remaining in a declared area.
Authorities allege Betka had entered the “declared area” of al-Raqqa via Turkey in March 2015 and aligned himself with the so-called Islamic State, before returning to seven months later.
Betka is also facing a charge he dealt in the proceeds of crime (money or property worth $1million or more).
Authorities have not seized any cash in relation to the Betka allegations, which are believed to form a separate branch of the investigation from that which made the October arrests and is not directly linked.
When Betka’s matter came before magistrate Elaine Truscott in Bankstown Local Court on Wednesday, there was a delay as he was assessed by paramedics at the local police station.
However, no details of his condition were revealed.
His lawyer, Ivan Sayed, requested the matter be adjourned to Parramatta Local Court on Thursday for a release application.
Mr Sayed said he was waiting for a response from a government agency following “a request for information that may assist our case”.
Outside court, he declined to elaborate on whether his client had a medical issue.
“Any of these questions will be answered tomorrow during the release application,” Mr Sayed told reporters.
A court document outlining police reasons for denying bail revealed he also had a domestic-related offence before the courts.
There was “significant evidence” supporting Betka’s active involvement in the terrorism offence, according to the file.
“There is an unacceptable risk that the accused person, if released from custody, will endanger the victim, individual or the community,” it said.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said Betka was the 81st n since 2014 to be charged with a terror offence.
“We face a very real risk – as people do in the United Kingdom, or the United States or Canada or any other Western democracy,” he told ABC Radio on Wednesday.
Betka’s bail application is due to be heard on Thursday.