On our way up to Samarra, we passed this mysterious, inscrutable building in the middle of nowhere.

Qasr al-Ashiq palace

Qasr al-Ashiq palace

Qasr al-Ashiq palace

Qasr al-Ashiq palace
After a little research, I’ve come to believe that is it the Qasr al-Ashiq palace:
http://www.cemml.colostate.edu/cultural/09476/iraq05-061.html

Samarra is a fucking spooky place. The entire vibe is much more tense than anywhere else I’ve been in Iraq. The guys below, believe it or not, are friendlies. If I saw them anywhere else, or not in an ING vehicle, I would not assume they were friendlies.
Friendlies?