US soldier arrested for fighting with terror group
Eric Harroun, 30, army veteran from Phoenix, Arizona, was detained at Dulles Airport on March 27th, upon his return from Syria, where he allegedly fought on the side of the al-Nusra Front, which is deemed a terror group by the US.
According to a statement from the Justice Department, Harroun has been charged with “conspiring to use a destructive device outside of the United States,” an offense which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Between 2000 and 2003, Harroun served with the US Army.
In January of this year, he crossed into Syria and joined a group of Al-Nusra rebels, prosecutors allege. He also posted online videos of himself training with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher or RPG.
“Harroun allegedly participated in attacks led by the Al-Nusra Front and was part of an RPG team, for which he carried anti-personnel and anti-armor rockets,” the statement said.
The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A former US Army soldier has reportedly joined an al-Qaeda linked group in Syria to fight against Assad’s regime and Israel.
Eric Harroun, 30, joined Al-Nusra Front, an Islamic group of militant rebels designated by the United States as a terrorist organization, to fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime as he was fascinated with the conflict in the Middle East. He also describes himself as a Sunni Muslim who hates Israel and Zionists and willing to fight side by side with Palestinian forces.
Harroun, who is known among Syrian rebels and loyalists as “The American”, flooded his Facebook page with photos and videos of himself with handguns, rifles, mortars and other weaponry. In one of the photos he poses holding a mortar in one hand and a rifle in the other. In another photo he holds a sniper rifle, commenting it “Ready to tear Bashar Al-Assads [sic] Army and the Shabehah apart!!”.
Harroun grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, before serving almost three years in the US Army. His father, Darryl Harroun, said that his son was discharged after a car crash that left him with a steel plate in his head. After the accident he received disability pay for years before going over to fight for the terrorist-backed organization and identifying himself as a Muslim and embracing “Islamic fanaticism”.
“Now he has mood swings and what-not,” Darryl Harroun said. “He was already suffering from depression before that, and the accident just kind of multiplied it,” he added. He doesn't agree with what Eric is doing but can't get him to stop.
“He just loves that part of the world,” his father said. “We scratch our heads and wonder what the hell he's doing. I told him, "You're never going to change those people's minds over there.” But he says they treat him like a hero.
Harroun started in Egypt during the Arab Spring’s beginnings, protesting against former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Later he was associated with the Free Syrian Army. He now reportedly is in Turkey.
Voice of Russia, RIA, the Global Post, the Daily Mail, Fox News