A US soldier who joined forces with the US-backed “rebels” fighting the Syrian Assad regime is now in the United States facing trial. Why? The charge is that he used a Weapon of Mass Destruction in combat. If you didn’t know a rocket propelled grenade counts as a WMD welcome to the club. I’m surprised no one counted all the RPGs in Iraq’s army and claimed they proved Hussein had WMD. This charge even allows for the death penalty though the prosecutor says that he will not seek it.
While the RPG is the only charge against Eric Harroun, somehow other accusations are slipping into it. The real problem is that, in fighting against Assad, Harroun joined allegedly joined forces with a terrorist group:
“However, an FBI agent testified that Harroun repeatedly admitted to fighting as part of Al-Nusra, which the U.S. labeled late last year as an alias of the designated terrorist group Al Qaeda in Iraq. Davis said the fact that Harroun repeatedly admitted to fighting as part of an Al-Nusra force was strong evidence of his guilt. The magistrate said Harroun boasted about fighting with the group even after being told — apparently by members of the force — that the U.S. had labeled them as terrorists. ‘That makes him a dangerous individual,” Davis said. “Not only did he [fight], he bragged about it.’”
Harroun strikes me as a dangerous lunatic, but he is obviously only guilty here of imitating the State department’s own policy and has shown no signs of threatening anyone in the United States or even any Americans overseas. For what it is worth, Harroun’s father believes his son worked for CIA.
(Notice that the TV news doesn’t even tell you that the government is claiming an RPG counts as a WMD).
Weirdly, Harroun came to the US, seemingly unaware that he was guilty of any criminal offense:
“During the hearing, it was revealed that Harroun actually returned to the U.S. on an airline ticket the U.S. Government purchased for him. Prosecutor Carter Burwell said Harroun was removed from the no-fly list in order to get him on board the flight. The prosecutor also suggested that FBI personnel were on the plane with him. Under questioning by Kamens, FBI agent Paul Higginbotham acknowledged that — besides Harroun’s own statements — the government had little evidence about what Harroun did during the fighting in Syria or about whom he’d fought with.”
What seems likely here is that the US government, knowing full well that it is sending money and arms to the Syrian rebels of which include Al-Nusra, is showing the pretense of “opposing” Al-Nusra by prosecuting Harroun. Meanwhile, it has a chance to pursue other agenda items, like perhaps, setting a precedent for identifying US military veterans as terrorists.
“Burwell called Harroun “an incredible danger to the United States — to the community.” At one point, the prosecutor cited the fact that Harroun was trained as a soldier, while in the Army from 2000 to 2003, as evidence of his dangerousness. That prompted Davis to ask if the government was arguing that all veterans could be viewed as more dangerous than non-veterans. Burwell insisted he was not suggesting that, but that the recency of Harroun’s involvement in combat was part of assessing how dangerous he was.”
We know the Obama Administration is constructing a narrative in which returning veterans are suspected as potential terrorists. As one official paper (PDF) spelled it out:
“The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”
Horroun provides a way of transitioning from fear of overseas foreign terrorists to manufacturing fear of domestic terrorists.