At the mosque they both attended, the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, Mr. Deng stood out. Usama Shami, president of the mosque, said the young Sudanese man came to his attention because he did not seem to care much about Islam. He asked few questions about Islamic rituals and rarely engaged with others.
He claimed to be a convert, said Mr. Shami, an engineer of Palestinian heritage, but he wasn’t interested in learning the faith, and that raised our suspicions.
Mr. Sulaiman called Mr. Shami and other members of the mosque and warned them to be careful around Mr. Deng, saying he was probably an informant and out to get someone, Mr. Shami recalled.