A U.S. Army veteran who was fighting for Syrian rebel forces says he is alive and well after a pro-Syrian government group posted a video on YouTube claiming that he had been killed.
The bloodied face of someone resembling Eric Harroun, 30, of Phoenix, was shown in the video, which was posted Wednesday under the title, 'Terrorists, including American Extremist "Eric Harroun" Have Been Terminated.'
But Harroun told MailOnline from his personal email account on Friday that 'Syrian Media must be smoking something, because I am alive and well chilling in Istanbul having a martini at the moment.'
MailOnline obtained Harroun's email address from a family member and has communicated with him in the past using the same email address.
[VIDEO AT THE BOTTOM]
Eric Harroun (right), a 30-year-old U.S. Army veteran from Phoenix, has joined al Qaeda alias Jabhat al-Nusra after months of fighting with Syrian rebels
Video: A man carries a dead body wrapped in a white sheet into the back of a van
Graphic: The five-minute video shows charred, dead bodies burning in a street (bodies not shown here)
The video carries a graphic for 'Syria Tube,' a pro-Assad website
The graphic five-minute video, which carries the logo for a pro-Syrian government website, was first reported by AOL Defense writer Colin Clark.
The Pentagon said it was aware of the video earlier Friday but could not confirm whether Harroun was alive or dead.
'We are aware of the reports and we're watching them,' Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren told MailOnline.
Footage in the video shows charred, dead bodies burning in a street. A group of men can be seen throwing a blanket over one of the bodies and carrying it to a truck.
The person filming appears to be an American, at one point speaking English in an American accent, and someone in the comment section of the YouTube video remarked that it could be Harroun filming. At the end of the video, the image of the bloodied man - the one that resembles Harroun - is displayed for a couple seconds.
Harroun, who is known among Syrian rebels and loyalists as 'The American,' joined the U.S. Army in 2000 and he was dishcharged with full disability pay for an injury in 2003 without ever having seen battle
Rebel fighting: In his time working for the U.S. army, Harroun never actually served in battle but earned his disability check because he was hit in a car crash on a base
The video was posted following reports earlier this week that Harroun had left Syria for Turkey and that he had joined al Qaeda-linked group Jabhat al-Nusra after losing his Syrian friends in the heat of battle. MailOnline has decided not to link to the video due to its graphic content.
'Getting into al-Nusra is not rocket science,' he said in an interview with Fox. 'It just takes balls and brains.'
Harroun's family vehemently denies that he has joined the terrorist-backed group, claiming that he is only helping Syrian rebel forces.
Harroun, who is known among Syrian rebels and loyalists as 'The American,' joined the U.S. Army in 2000 and he was discharged with full disability pay for an injury in 2003 without ever having seen battle, according to his father.
He was injured while riding in a pickup truck that hit a tree and he now has a steel plate in his head, his father Darryl Harroun told Fox.
Harroun revels in his 'hero' status and brags on Facebook and in YouTube vidoes of his bloody exploits in the Middle East
Harroun (right) describes himself as a Sunni Muslim on Facebook and writes about his hatred of Israel and Zionists
'Now he has mood swings and what-not,' he said. 'He was already suffering from depression before that, and the accident just kind of multiplied it,' the elder Mr Harroun said he frequently talks to his son by phone.
He said he doesn't agree with what Eric is doing but can't get him to stop.
'He just loves that part of the world,' his father said. 'We scratch our heads and wonder what the hell he's doing.
'I told him, "You're never going to change those people's minds over there." But he says they treat him like a hero.'
Eric's life has changed dramatically from the days when he worked at Artisan Mortgage company in Phoenix, Arizona from 2006 to 2008 where he described his job as finalizing 'applications for home loans or second mortgages,and a lot of other boring paperwork.'
Domestic life: Before going overseas, Harroun lived in this Phoenix, Arizona apartment building
Previous life: He worked at Artisan Mortgage Company from 2006 to 2008 finalizing second mortgages 'and alot of other boring paperwork'
Proud: Now he posts pictures as he holds machine guns and dressed in army fatigues while in Syria
Eric Harroun revels in his 'hero' status and brags on Facebook and in YouTube videos of his bloody exploits in the Middle East.
His Facebook page is littered with photos of himself brandishing handguns, rifles, mortars and other weaponry.
In a photo of himself holding a mortar in one hand and a rifle in the other that he posted on Facebook, he writes, 'Lol Army of Darkness, This is my BOOM STICK. Lol.'
A lit cigarette hangs out of his mouth in the image and in a similar photo featuring a sniper rifle, where he writes, 'Ready to tear Bashar Al-Assads [sic] Army and the Shabehah apart!!'
He describes himself as a Sunni Muslim on Facebook and writes about his hatred of Israel and Zionists. Under his 'Favorite Quotations' section of his profile he writes, 'The only good Zionist is a dead Zionist.'
The Syrian rebel group Amr ibn al-'Aas Brigade told Fox that 'The American' was working with them until last month - about the time he reportedly joined Al-Nusra
In a YouTube video uploaded in mid-January, Harroun warns Assad that his days are 'numbered.'
'Bashar Assad, your days are numbered,' he says in the video, where he is surrounded by several rebel fighters.
'You are going down in flames. You should just quit now, while you can, and leave. You are going to die, no matter what. Where you go we will find you and kill you. Do you understand?'
At another point, he changed his Facebook status to read that he was 'LMAO at Bashar Al-Assads Speech today!!!!!'
The Syrian rebel group Amr ibn al-’Aas Brigade told Fox that 'The American' was working with them until last month - about the time he reportedly joined al-Nusra.
Harroun's father said he fears for his son's safety and has little doubt that he will lose him battles abroad.
'I know one day I'm going to get a message from over there, telling me my son is dead,' he said.
SOURCE: Daily Mail
Come on...this guy isSTILL working for the US Army; He is what is called "US Military Advisor" elsewhere.
LOL! By fighting for Israel? That is only for the consumption to the morons he is handling!
You're right, Nota. I am also not really convinced about the man's presence and actions. He may be an "agent provocateur" for all we know.
Or...he could be like O'Keef who is ex-military who is fighting against Israel. http://www.worldcitizen.uk.net/
They do exist you know.
Ask O'Keef yourself he does respond to emails.
He is a natural born warrior just as this gentleman could be.
There are many a grey areas as far as Ken O'Keefe is concerned so, I am somewhat skeptical about him. I could be wrong but, when reason and logic speak otherwise, it's not easy to ignore the obvious.