One morning in mid-January 2015, a small, furtive-looking man in a black hooded parka stood alone on the Turkish side of the Akçakale border crossing with Syria.
The man glanced around uneasily, and finally approached a street sweeper in a blue jumpsuit. ‘I want to cross to the other side,’ he said. ‘What can I do?’ The street sweeper demanded 75 Turkish lira and pointed to a small hole in the fence, not far from the main gate.
The man paid him but hesitated. He had come a long way, and was now barely 10 metres from his destination: the dusty brown hills of northern Syria, where the Islamic State began. ‘What about the guards?’ he said. ‘No problem,’ the street sweeper replied. ‘Just go.’
ISIS was committing atrocities long before the pilot met his unfortunate end.
This man is not innocent.