When you see his photograph, Eric Harroun looks like a typical, 30 year old American male. He used to work at a mortgage company in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. According to his myspace page he likes to listen to Sublime and the Beastie Boys, and his favorite movies include Donnie Darko and Forrest Gump. However, Harroun is also fighting against Bashar-Al-Assad in Syria, and posting personal mottos like “The only good Zionist is a dead Zionist” on Facebook. This is the man that has been referred to by his allies in Syria and elsewhere as “the American” a U.S. military veteran currently in Syria fighting with rebel and Jihadist forces against Assad’s regime.
Harroun was a former Army engineer, stationed for three years at Fort Riley, Kansas. Though he was never deployed, he did attain the rank of private first class and was eventually discharged with full disability pay, according to his father, after he suffered a head injury riding in the back of a truck. However, while he had no combat experience formally with the Army, since he went to the Middle East he has apparently joined up with an Al-Qaeda affiliate group called Jabhat-Al-Nusra, with whom he has entered a number of combat situations fighting against Syrian military forces. He has recorded some of his time in Syria, such as in a video where he addresses Assad telling him to step down soon, and that he will be killed regardless of this, or when he and his comrades raided a crashed Syrian army helicopter which they apparently had shot down, exclaiming “We smoked the mother****ers didn't we?” to his driver.
Harroun appears extremely committed to the cause of defeating the Assad regime, and he has made this very public, as one can see on his Facebook page. He is very opinionated and steadfast in his beliefs, as well as vitriolic in his responses to anyone who may disagree with him. He also seems to take a large amount of pride in his actions, happily posing with an arsenal of weapons in various photos. While it is certainly worrisome that he is advocating such a high level of violence against Assad’s regime, he is certainly not the first American to act against it. Filmmaker and Journalist Matthew Van Dyke fought against Muammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya during the “Arab spring” and has been an anti-Assad advocate, as well as Abdul and Mo, two Syrian-American brothers from Philadelphia who have also fought against the regime.
The second link in this article will take you to a recent Fox News story on Harroun’s time in Syria. In the article, he was described as an Islamic fanatic and frequent anti-Zionist, anti-infidel poster. The article uses charged language and paints a picture of a mentally disturbed man lured into radical Islam. While Harroun’s methods are disturbing and violent, one can see plainly the oppressive nature of the powers he has been fighting against, and given that it appears at least a small number of other Americans have undertaken similar action, along with a rising American sentiment directed against Assad’s bloody regime and to a lesser degree Israeli-apartheid it will be interesting to see what affect, if any, his and others action’s will have on the relationship between America, Syria, and Israel going forward.