Raja Abdulrahim and Ken Dilanian
January 2, 2014

It was the summer of 2012 and the young Jordanian was working long hours as a teacher at a vocational high school. He had just bought an apartment and a car. He was interested in getting married.

But just a few months later, he was making a long and dangerous five-day trek with other foreign fighters through the mountains that separate Lebanon from Syria. Angered by the plight of refugees and attacks on fellow Sunni Muslims by Syria’s mainly Shiite and Alawite Muslim forces, the 28-year-old, who identified himself only as Abu Amr, had joined the rebel forces.

“Personally, I saw that as Muslims, our religion was under threat,” he said via Skype, adding that his mother had encouraged him to fight. “My mother knew that if we died, it would be the best way to die … protecting religion and Muslims.”

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