A former U.S. soldier who was later charged by the FBI with fighting for an al Qaeda-linked group in Syria has died, his family said in a statement Tuesday.
Eric Harroun of Phoenix, Ariz. died of an accidental overdose on April 8 his sister Sarah said on his Facebook page. He would have turned 32 in June.
“We won’t know more information for 60-90 days,” she wrote. “That’s how long the toxicology reports take.”
Harroun, an American citizen, served with the U.S. Army from 2000 to 2003 but was medically discharged after being injured in a car accident.
He later gained international attention when he posted YouTube videos of himself fighting alongside Syrian rebels, battling forces loyal to the country’s president Bashar Assad.
He entered Syria in 2011, according to an in interview with Vice magazine, after flying to Egypt where he took part in the Tahrir Square demonstrations that toppled the country’s then president, Hosni Mubarak.
Arrested on his return to the U.S. in March 2013, he was later charged with fighting for the al Qaeda-linked al-Nusrah Front during his time in Syria and using a rocket propelled grenade, according to criminal complaint issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia. He faced life imprisonment if found guilty.
However, under a sealed plea agreement Harroun eventually pleaded guilty to a law regulating munitions exports and was sentenced to time served.
His funeral will be held Friday in Scottsdale, Ariz.
First published April 15 2014, 9:34 AM