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Seen up close, the fighters’ pretense of bravado soon disappears.

Their shoes were taken from them, their pockets emptied and their belts discarded, and, as they stood facing the wall, the backs of their dishdashas were stained with the evidence that some of them had not been to a toilet in days.

One of the men smelled so bad that when he was taken into the small interrogation room, those inside were startled. He filled the doorway, appearing even larger than his actual size. The interrogator unbuckled his hip holster, resting his right hand on his pistol. Everyone in the room seemed scared of the man, even though his hands were tied behind his back. His thick black hair was Medusa-wild and shoulder-length, though his handsome face had only a wisp of black stubble on the chin.