The following is an excerpt from the new book, “Murphy’s Law: My Journey from Ranger and Green Beret to Investigative Journalist.”

That night we were driven out to the border crossing. On the side of the road, we picked up a Canadian named Peter Douglass, which had been prearranged with the driver. He was a 66-year-old Canadian who had lived in Germany for 10 years and worked an assortment of odd jobs. He was adamant about wanting to fight ISIS, figuring he had another 10 years or so before he had a stroke or developed dementia, so he had to go get his licks in before it was too late. George, ever the charming personality, promptly started a fight with Peter.

Also in the car were four teenagers who had been turned into refugees when ISIS took over Kobanî. Without any future in Kurdistan, they had decided to fight with the YPG to take back their hometown. The driver played patriotic Kurdish music from the tape deck during the entire ride, which kept the young men amped up. They chanted, “Kobanî! Kobanî!” They really wanted to go and mix it up. The Syrian Civil War was, and is, a meat grinder, with battle after battle depleting a generation of Middle Eastern young people. I’m sure most of the young men I met back then are dead by now.

After driving down some dusty roads, we finally made it to the river crossing. As we approached, the headlights illuminated a small inflatable raft already crossing the Tigris. We were near the tri-border region between several actual states and non-states: Kurdistan, Rojava (formerly Syria), and Turkey. We unloaded, and I was on the first lift across the river. Tossing my rucksack inside the raft, I sat on the side as we pushed off into the cold waters. I knew never to wear my ruck during maritime operations. If you fall over the side, your ruck might drag you straight to the bottom. I told Benni to take hers off for that reason.

The small electric engine purred, and we churned our way across the river to a new country, one with new possibilities and a very uncertain future. On the other side of the river, we stepped off onto a rocky outcropping and were immediately greeted by about a dozen Kurdish teenagers. One of them asked where I was from.

“America,” I replied.

“Oh, you are American ninja!”

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