ARVADA, Colo. — Maybe he didn't quite fit in at his midsize high school in this Denver suburb, but Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa certainly didn't stand out. One of 11 siblings in a family that emigrated from Raqqa, Syria, two decades ago, Alissa seemed to get along with others in his early teens — a moon-faced boy who wrestled but perhaps wanted for friends.
“He was a pretty chill kid from what I can remember,” said Mark Dorokhov, who said he often ate lunch with Alissa during the short period that Dorokhov attended Arvada West High School. “He wasn’t like a popular kid or anything. And he wasn’t like the high school loser either. He was just kind of in-between. He was like me, I guess.”