There was a time before the emergence of the Islamic State that Iraqi Lt. Ali Sahib wanted to be an computer engineer.
That seems like a lifetime ago.
Instead, Sahib took a hiatus from the classroom to train to become a member of Iraqi Special Operation Forces, or ISOF, an elite military unit fighting on the front lines of an ongoing battle to retake Mosul that’s left large swathes of the city destroyed and prompted hundreds of thousands to flee.
The 28-year-old says decades of near-constant fighting in Iraq opened his eyes to a stark reality. “I was born right after a war,” he says, referring to the Iran-Iraq conflict that spanned nearly the entire decade of the ‘80s and left hundreds of thousands dead.