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By Sebastian Rotella, ProPublica 

The suicide bombing at al-Nairab military base in northern Syria on June 1, 2012, as seen in a propaganda video by al-Nusrah, al-Qaida's Syrian branch.

The suicide bombing at al-Nairab military base in northern Syria on June 1, 2012, as seen in a propaganda video by al-Nusrah, al-Qaida’s Syrian branch.

MADRID — Rachid Wahbi came to Syria from a Spanish slum, rushing toward death.

And he didn’t plan to die alone.

Facing a camera hours before the end, the bearded, 33-year-old cabdriver wore a black headdress and a black flak vest and held an AK-47 rifle. He spoke in hesitant classical Arabic with a north Moroccan accent. He said he had studied his target and, God willing, his action would end in triumph. He wished the glory of martyrdom for his fellow fighters in the al-Nusrah Front, al-Qaida’s Syrian branch.