A picture of Khaled Mahmoud al-Hajj is seen attached near his house in Tripoli, Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. (The Daily Star/Stringer)
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In early August, about two months after Khaled Mahmoud al-Hajj left his hometown of Tripoli to join ISIS, he called his brother from Iraq.Khaled is one of around 890 Lebanese who are thought to have traveled to Syria, according to statistics compiled by British magazine The Economist, some of whom have continued on into Iraq.Khaled had four brothers and a sister, including Mohammad, who is unemployed, but little other family.Even at 18, Ali said, Khaled was still just a child.So what was it that pushed Khaled to leave his life behind and go to Iraq? Mohammad said that he thought it might have something to do with his own strong reaction to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which he believes may have rubbed off on his younger brother. According to Mohammad, who kept in contact via instant messaging service WhatsApp, he arranged to travel by boat from Tripoli to Turkey, and from there crossed into Syria and made his way to Raqqa, ISIS's self-declared capital. Fifteen days later, he crossed the border again, this time to Iraq, where he stayed for around a month and a half. Three days before his suicide mission, Khaled, now going by the nom-de-guerre Abu Hajer al-Lubnani, phoned his brother for the last time.
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