Eric Harroun of Phoenix Charged With Conspiring to Use RPG While Fighting With Al-Qaeda Group

Eric Harroun, a 30-year-old former U.S. soldier raised in Phoenix, has been charged with conspiring to use a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) while fighting in Syria with an Al-Qaeda group.

The charge, which carries a potential sentence of life in prison, comes a couple of weeks after a video surfaced on YouTube (see below) showing Harroun apparently engaged in a combat situation with foreign fighters.

Harroun was arrested (the U.S. Department of Justice didn't say where) and hauled before U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan this morning in Alexandria, Virginia's federal courthouse.

Harroun fought against the government regime in Syria with the Al-Nusrah Front, also known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq, a group that "has claimed responsibility for nearly 600 terrorist attacks in Syria," according to a DOJ news release.

Also from the release:

According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Harroun allegedly crossed into Syria in January 2013 and fought with members of the al-Nusrah Front against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.

The affidavit alleges that Harroun was trained to use an RPG by members of the terrorist organization and that he fired an RPG and posted online multiple photographs of himself carrying or posing with RPGs and other military weapons.

Harroun allegedly participated in attacks led by the al-Nusrah Front and was part of an RPG team, for which he carried anti-personnel and anti-armor rockets.

Harroun's a former U.S. Army solider, having served from 2000 to 2003. His father, Darryl Harroun, told Fox News that his son was discharged with a plate in his head and full disability pay after he was involved in a vehicle collision.

Sounds like the young Harroun's personality became erratic after his disability. It seems like it would take a head injury or other brain defect to join the violent, nutty Al-Qaeda fighters.

But in this case, Harroun and Al-Qaeda were fighting against the Syrian government -- the same government accused of slaughtering children and babies. Doesn't that make Harroun and his bros the good guys?

Maybe Harroun would have been better off under U.S. law fighting with Assad's killers.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.