Phoenix man accused of conspiring with Al-Qaida has died - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

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Phoenix man accused of conspiring with Al-Qaida has died

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Eric Harroun (Source: Facebook) Eric Harroun (Source: Facebook)
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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A Phoenix man accused of joining up with an Al-Qaida group overseas died suddenly at his father's home in the Valley.

Eric Harroun, 31, a former U.S. Army soldier who spent months fighting with the Free Syrian Army before being arrested and charged with terrorism by the FBI has died, his family announced Wednesday.

The cause of his death is unknown and an autopsy is expected in the coming days.

Eric Harroun was living in Phoenix while trying to return to Syria to fight in the country's civil war.

Eric Harroun was charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States and had been known as the Jihadist from Phoenix.

"I don't think there is any truth in any of this. He's very patriotic," Eric Harroun's father, Darryl Harroun, said at the time of his son's arrest. 

Eric Harroun pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for his freedom.

Eric Harroun appeared on a YouTube video with four bearded Arab men, looked at the camera and told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, "Your days are numbered. You're going down in flames. You should just quit now while you can. You're going to die no matter what. ... We will find you and kill you."

Eric Harroun is a former U.S. Army private who served from 2000 to 2003 but was never sent into combat, according to the New York Times.

A number of photos were posted on Eric Harroun's Facebook page, showing him fighting in Syria.

According to www.foreignpolicy.com, Eric Harroun considered himself a freedom fighter who has dedicated himself to fighting alongside radical Islamic forces in Syria in an attempt to overthrow al-Assad.

In one video, Eric Harroun is in a jeep with other rebels, who claim to have shot down a Syrian Army helicopter. The pictures and videos got the attention of the FBI, who asked the Valley man to come in for questioning at the U.S. consulate in Turkey in March 2013.

He was arrested at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, where he was charged with conspiring with an Al-Qaida group to wage war against the Syrian regime.

He told a reporter that he would never harm American soldiers. However, court records indicate that the groups Harroun was hanging out with were terrorist organizations with extreme anti-American agendas.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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