Phoenix Army vet accused of Al-Qaeda links

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) -- A U.S. Army veteran is charged with conspiring with an Al-Qaeda group to wage war against the Syrian regime.
Eric Harroun of Phoenix was charged Thursday in federal court in northern Virginia with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the U.S. An affidavit states Harroun has been engaged in military action in Syria, siding with rebel forces against the Syrian government. It says he used rocket-propelled grenades in the fighting earlier this year.
On his Facebook page, he claimed credit for downing a Syrian helicopter.
Prosecutors say one of the groups with which Harroun served is the al-Nusrah Front, which is commonly known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Harroun's parents in Phoenix were unavailable for comment Thursday, but his mother has talked to 3TV in the past.

"His heart was in the right place. He's there helping the good civilians in Syria. He's never come across anyone who says they're with Al-Qaeda," Shirley Harroun said in early March.

The FBI says Harroun voluntarily met agents for interviews at the US Consulate in Turkey, before agreeing to fly to Washington, DC.
Harroun has made an initial court appearance. A public defender was appointed to represent him in a detention hearing scheduled for Tuesday.