Hearing delayed for man accused in Syria fighting

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) -- A magistrate has delayed a detention hearing for an Arizona man accused of fighting alongside an al-Qaida group in Syria.

30 year old Eric Harroun of Phoenix was charged last week in federal court in Alexandria with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the U.S. Specifically, prosecutors say he joined up with an al-Qaida affiliate and fired rocket-propelled grenades as part of a rebellion against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

A detention hearing had been scheduled for Tuesday. But it was postponed until April 8 after public defender Geremy Kamens said he was in discussions with prosecutors to resolve whether pretrial detention is necessary.

Harroun is a U.S. Army veteran who openly bragged on Facebook about his exploits among the Syrian rebels. His father, Darryl Harroun, has said that family and friends gave Harroun the nickname "Arizona Jones."

Harroun was arrested when he returned to the U.S. last week through Dulles International Airport in the Washington area. He faces up to life in prison.

According to an FBI affidavit, Harroun was engaged in military action in Syria from January to March of this year.

Harroun told FBI investigators that within days of crossing the Syrian border, he was fighting with the Free Syrian Army in an attack on a Syrian army encampment that was carried out jointly with the al-Nusrah Front, commonly known as "al-Qaida in Iraq" and designated a terrorist group by the U.S.

After that battle, Harroun retreated in the back of an al-Nusrah truck. Harroun told the FBI that at the al-Nusrah camp, he was initially treated like a prisoner but was later accepted by other members and participated in several attacks with them, according to the affidavit.

Harroun is not charged with supporting a terrorist group, but instead with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the U.S., a law that applies to U.S. nationals operating anywhere in the world. The statute makes no distinction or exception for an individual who may be fighting a hostile regime.

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