Is Phoenix Army vet tied to al-Qaida? Family says noPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX--- A Phoenix mother is denying accusations that her son is tied to a terror group in the Middle East.
"He's with the Free Syrian Army, not al-Qaida," Shirley Harroun said of her son, Eric.
Eric Harroun, 30, is a former U.S. Army soldier who now spends his time fighting for Muslim causes throughout the Middle East. He's known as "The American."
Harroun says he was in Egypt for the overthrow of its president. He also says he's spent time in Palestine, before heading to Turkey and Syria, where he's now fighting with rebels to overthrow Bashir Assad's regime.
News organizations worldwide report some of Harroun's fellow fighters are members of al-Qaida.
"It's not true. He's fighting alongside civilians. [The Syrian] military kills innocent people. He's just there to help the good people of Syria," Harroun's mother told 3TV. "He hasn't run into any anti-American people."
Her son's Facebook page is full of anti-Assad postings, and one in which he wrote, "The only good Zionist is a dead Zionist."
"It saddens me that he says that," Harroun's mother said, "His heart is in the right place. At times what comes out of his mouth isn't what I'd prefer, but his heart is in the right place."
Harroun's mother says the family has no ties to the Muslim world. She told 3TV that her son met a group of Iraqi nationals while at college in Tucson, which is what eventually led him to the Middle East.
The family has not seen Harroun in several months, but they keep in contact over Facebook and Skype.
"I just wish he'd come home. I fear for his life," Harroun's mother said.