American intelligence has long known that the bulk of foreign combatants waging jihad in Iraq are Saudi nationals, but Libya is a close second, with much higher per capita representation. Documents found in Sinjar, Iraq, showed 112 fighters in a group of 606 were Libyan, and 52 came from Darnah, an impoverished coastal town of 50,000. Newsweek traveled there to attempt to learn why.
Darnah has a history of anti-colonial activity, but the insurgents had personal agendas, too. One thread connecting the men—both poor and prosperous, with good prospects or none at all—is an obsession with Iraq and images of violence on Al-Jazeera. "He never watched movies," said the brother of one fighter whose fate is unknown. "It was only the news."