Eric Harroun, a U.S. Army veteran from Arizona, was arrested Wednesday for allegedly fighting alongside an Al Qaeda front in Syria, and then boasting about it online. Harroun, who served in the U.S. army from 2000 to 2003, told the FBI in Turkey that he hates al Qaeda and was only trying to help topple the Assad regime in Syria when he fought alongside rebels. He was arrested upon his return to the U.S. The criminal complaint against him claims Harroun conspired to use a weapon of mass destruction." Harroun remains in custody pending a preliminary hearing in April.
Throughout his ordeal, Harroun appears to have posted pictures of himself online in military fatigues with his fellow fighters and weapons, including a rocket-propelled grenade. In one post, he reportedly claimed to have downed a helicopter. He also appeared in online videos threatening Syria’s President Bashad al-Assad, court documents said.
The court documents say Harroun admitted online and to the FBI agents that he had fought with the al-Nusra Front, but claimed that he hates al Qaeda and was only trying to help topple the Assad regime. The U.S. government has repeatedly called on Assad to step down and recent news reports allege the U.S. is helping the rebels acquire weapons from friendly regional governments.
In an interview with Fox News earlier this month, Harroun said he was welcomed by al-Nusra.
“Getting into al-Nusra is not rocket science,” he said, according to Fox News. “It just takes balls and brains.”
I think there is a lot more that is not being said about this case, otherwise, I suspect that Mr. Harroun's "balls and brains" would've had a close encounter with a U.S. drone. Not saying I agree with or condone drone strikes -- particularly on American citizens -- but this sounds like precisely the type of activity that the current policy for drone strikes was written for.