There's no question of ISIS batallion leader Abu Taha's guilt. But Taha's is a nom de guerre, so when Taha is executed for killing dozens of Iraqis, Malik Khamis Habib dies with him. Rotting in a jail cell, what is he thinking? Kim Dozier, returning to the middle east after being critically wounded there, interviews someone few would sympathize with but everyone can now understand.
Why did you join ISIS? I asked.
"Someone from my neighborhood came to me. He explained we must make a change, that Shias were hurting Sunnis."
Did you ever know a Sunni personally who was hurt by a Shia Muslim, I asked?
"No. Just rumors," he admitted. …
My translator pushed him to explain his role in dispatching car bombs. He later told me this brought back some bad memories for him, too. Sporting a 101st Airborne sweatshirt and reciting proudly the designation of the 3rd Infantry Division unit he'd also served, he explained he'd lost five U.S. battle buddies in a car bomb that hit his team years earlier. He'd been thrown 50 feet, escaping with a concussion, broken bones, and the sadness of a survivor. He knew this prisoner had dispatched such car bombs against Iraqis, and he too wanted to know why.
"What do you want me to say," the prisoner asked. "I destroyed myself. I destroyed my family."
He has a message for Americans, too.