U.S. Army vet faces charges for fighting alongside Syrian rebels
By The Washington Post
Published: Friday, March 29, 2013, 7:06 p.m.
WASHINGTON — A U.S. Army veteran has been charged with conspiracy for fighting alongside a Syrian rebel group linked to al-Qaida.
Eric Harroun, 30, known to Syrians as “the American,” crossed into northern Syria in January and joined members of Jabhat al-Nusra to fight against the Syrian regime, according to an FBI agent's affidavit in support of a criminal complaint filed by prosecutors in federal court in Alexandria, Va.
In news interviews and online posts, Harroun described fighting with the rebels and helping to shoot down a military helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade, or RPG. He told the FBI he was trained to use an RPG and that he shot 10 people but does not know whether he killed any of them.
The complaint says Harroun conspired to use a weapon of mass destruction, the RPG, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. He made his initial appearance in federal court on Thursday.
Numerous Islamist groups are part of the opposition fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Jabhat al-Nusra is regarded as one of the most effective rebel forces. Also known as the al-Nusra Front, the group was des-ignated a terrorist organization by the State Department in December. The designation bars U.S. citizens from any dealings with the group.
Concerns about such groups as Jabhat al-Nusra have been cited by the Obama administration as one of the reasons the U.S. government has declined to provide weapons to the Syrian opposition. Instead, the rebels depend on arms provided by other countries, particularly Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
In January, Harroun appeared in a YouTube video wearing a black-and-white kaffiyeh and sitting with a group of men wearing military-style clothing. Speaking to the camera, he said, “Bashar al-Assad, your days are numbered. . . . Where you go, we will find and kill you,” the affidavit says.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Traffic tickets — and revenue — plunge in Dallas
- Measure happiness, U.S. told
- Monitor ends bid to force chemo on Ohio girl
- Baker ordered to serve gay couples
- Beer black market exploits enthusiasts, ignores law
- Utah doctor’s suicide attempt foiled by jail staff
- Ex-prof hopes to save art for Detroit
- Earnings vary wildly by major, team says
- FBI: Russian diplomats lied to get U.S. benefits
- From prison to presidency, Mandela reformed South Africa, ended apartheid
- Sandy Hook 911 calls fuel sensitivity debate