(Los Angeles Times) The men push forward, smartphones flying back and forth as they enlist whoever is closest to take their photo with the swarthy figure at the front of the crowd.
When it's the next man's turn, he approaches with reverence, planting a kiss on the cheek or forehead of the muscle-bound man with the shaved head and jet-black bushy beard. An awkward pose, a quick snap, and it's on to the next acolyte, already in place.
Who is worthy of such attention? A movie star? A chart-topping singer? Nope.
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He's Iraq's most famous Shiite militiaman, a fierce warrior whose nom de guerre — Abu Azrael — is an archangel of death in Islam. But the 37-year-old has another nickname: the "Iraqi Rambo."