Speaking out for the first time since the gruesome video of him mutilating the corpse of a dead Syrian soldier surfaced online, Khalid al-Hamad defended his actions to TIME. The brutality he displayed in the 27-second clip—which included him "biting" into the man's lung—was prompted, he says, by images he found on the dead man's cell phone. "I found a clip of a woman and her two daughters fully naked and he was humiliating them, and sticking a stick here and there," al-Hamad said. The video, which stunned the Internet in April, was thoroughly reviewed in a report by Human Rights Watch on Monday. While difficult to watch, al-Hamad says it's just one violent scene of millions in war-torn Syria. “You are not seeing what we are seeing and you are not living what we are living," he said.