A former Islamist fighter in Syria recalls why he went to Syria, how easy it was to get there – and why he would go again, if he could.
On his first trip abroad, he left with 400 euros in his pocket, a printed map from the internet and the belief that he was fulfilling his destiny in eyes of Allah. The destination was the frontline of the war in Syria, but his jihad ended faster than it started.
Two years later, in a bar full of people in his hometown in northern Albania, Ebu Merjem stands out with his long beard and his trousers cut short above the ankle.
He does not like the attention he attracts and chooses a half-empty corner of the bar to explain what that pushed him towards a far-away war.
“If I had the c