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US Army veteran fighting with al Qaeda

Video of a downed Syrian regime helicopter taken by Eric Harroun, a US Army veteran fighting alongside Islamist rebels. Harroun, a Muslim convert known as "the American," has fought with various groups, including the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda in Iraq's affiliate in Syria. From a Fox News profile:

Eric Harroun, 30, grew up in Phoenix before joining the U.S. Army in 2000. Although Harroun was never deployed during his three-year hitch, he has seen plenty of combat fighting with Syrian rebels and, more recently, Jabhat al-Nusra, a group the U.S. State Department classifies as an alias for Al Qaeda in Iraq.

"I was separated in a battle and most of my group was K.I.A. and Al-Nusra picked me up," Harroun told FoxNews.com during one of several brief interviews conducted via Skype.

Harroun, who said he is now in Turkey, shrugged off a question about fighting alongside Al Qaeda terrorists who have joined the Syrian rebellion, saying, "the U.S. plays both sides, too." He said the offshoot of the terror group behind the 9/11 attacks welcomed him.

READER COMMENTS: "US Army veteran fighting with al Qaeda"

Posted by UNF at March 12, 2013 9:51 PM ET:

KIA sounds right, as Eric's Chechen compadre ('Sheeshani', the jeep driver) was less lucky in making it back to Turkey intact:


If he survives, it will be amusing to see how Obama & Co will handle this convoluted case - a US 'licensed' terrorist using MANPADs to attack an approved enemy (Syria) while threatening to proceed to do the same to the Holy Cow (Israel).

Posted by blert at March 13, 2013 4:43 AM ET:


"Holy Cow" is always taken as an implicit reference to Hinduism.

It's the only creed famous for holding them as sacred -- based upon notions of reincarnation, and such.

Inre jihadist threats vs Israel... Since they are as common as the wind, such utterances have no meaning, no weight.

Eric Harroun does have problems with the State Department, et. al. Unless you're John F. Kerry, it's illegal to conduct your own 'foreign policy.'

The SAA would certainly classify him as a mercenary jihadist. The Geneva accords sanctions on mercenaries are harsh: they have no rights of any kind -- and can be tortured or hanged at will. In which case, a firing squad would be a step up in class.

Posted by UNF at March 13, 2013 4:32 PM ET:

@ Blert,

thanks for the literal detail -- my use of 'Holy Cow' was a metaphor to describe the essential attitude of the US Congress towards Israel - a venerated idol protected by special taboos.

Also, I severely doubt the Geneva Accords legitimize the use of torture on mercenaries, spies or anyone at all. Perhaps you are thinking of the George Tenet Accords?

Posted by J House at March 13, 2013 6:21 PM ET:

It only takes one paranoid jihadi to believe Eric Harroun is working for CIA and he is toast. What a fool...

Posted by g at March 13, 2013 7:36 PM ET:

He is working for the CIA.

I am trying to make toast.

Posted by blert at March 14, 2013 3:24 AM ET:


Before the end of the Thirty-Years War (and Eighty-Years War) in 1648 the 'Western Way of War' was absolutely feral.

A N Y T H I N G was permitted. Repeat after me: anything -- particularly to include torture: cruelties that you'd have to look up in specialty histories.

The rest of the planet still operates that way.

At the outset of the German invasion of Russia June 22, 1941 Stalin specifically reiterated that the USSR entirely disowned the Geneva Accords -- and its antecedents going all the way back to 1648.

Stalin had already proved that he was an animal during the Russo-Finnish War -- and invasions of the Baltic States, et. al.

Consequently, the Nazis -- on that front -- entirely abandoned the Accords, too. (Other than the SS, Germans fighting in the West adhered to the Accords.) The bloodletting in the East beggars description.


The Western Europeans decided after all the insane mayhem that s o m e (additional) rules of war were in order.

They started with mercenaries. In 1648 mercenaries also meant the SWISS. They were t h e dominant suppliers of mercs -- to all sides.

They permanently ruined the reputation of the Swiss for all time. (They kept changing sides during the middle of battles!) The savage treatment -- for mercs -- was originally intended to dissuade Swiss pikemen from joining non-Swiss conflicts -- under any guise.

There was one single exception: the Vatican. The Pope was already a long standing employer of Swiss mercenaries. For his service only, the Swiss (mercs) were granted permission. You will see them still performing this craft in the photo ops for Pope Francis.

For the sake of brevity, I'm compelled to omit quite a bit...

But, the bottom line was: those lawful soldiers could and should expect military courtesy (prisoners rights) -- even in defeat. Mercenary soldiers could never attain military courtesy -- being explicitly damned. To be a lawful soldier one had to wear a distinguishing uniform -- even a knotted cloth would do. Failing that one is classified as a spy, traitor, or pirate -- that is: Unlawful.

Unlawful combatants were due no military courtesy of any kind -- and the universal expectation was forced labor, torture, hanging and mutilation of corpses -- all commonplace gambits of the era.

(Check up on what happened to Guy Fawkes and Captain Kidd.)

AQ and its fellow travelers universally practice unlawful warfare -- piracy -- brigandage and direct targeting of non-combatants. All of these gambits were the norm during the Thirty-Years War -- and are open options as retribution by signatories to the agreements at any time against those who do not adhere to them.

The reason that signatories grant rights to beaten foes -- is so that they will reciprocate. But the Salafists swear to n e v e r reciprocate, never obey the Western Ways of War.

It is F A L S E that Western militaries are prohibited from brutal warfare. We only act humanely because it is in our (modern and confident) culture.

As Germany and Russia showed the way is always, theoretically, open for total war.

The ISI is riding a tiger -- their chronic betrayals may take them far up the escalation ladder.

Posted by gb at April 6, 2013 11:55 AM ET:

@Bert and UNF, I enjoy the point- counter point discussion. @Bert, as usual, you have great command of the facts. I enjoy your posts, I learn something from each one.