John Scialoia recalls his high school classmate Ahmad Abousamra as a "nice kid," which is a far cry from someone who may now be creating social media propaganda for the world's most feared jihadist.
Multiple media outlets are reporting that Abousamra may be a driving force behind social media strategy of Islamic State (ISIS).
Abousamra, a 32 year-old who grew up in Stoughton and attended Northeastern and UMass Boston landed on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list last December. There is currently a $50,000 reward for information that will lead to his capture.
Scialoia recalled Abousamra as being an insightful, smart and friendly when both attended Xaverian High School in Westwood during the 1990s.
"He hung out with the nerdier crowd -- the ones that got straight As and would say insightful things in class," he said.
Abousamra, he said, never talked about religion in school.
"I'm just as shocked as anyone," he said. "I never thought he was the type of person who would want someone else killed. I got along with him just fine."
A federal warrant for the arrest of Abousamra has been outstanding since 2009, after he was charged with a litany of offenses that alleged he provided material supports to terrorists and conspired to kill in a foreign country. In 2009, he was indicted along with Sudbury native Tarek Mehanna, who was ultimately found guilty of four terrorism-related charges.
Abousamra, however, fled the country in 2006, according to the FBI. The FBI contends Abousamra went to Yemen and Pakistan to try and join extremist groups in those countries.
Kieran Ramsey, an FBI assistant special agent in charge, indicated Abousamra became radicalized after high school, between 2001 and 2004.
Ramsey declined to confirm or deny the media reports detailing Abousamra's alleged role with Islamic State.
Speaking on Meet the Press on Sunday, President Barack Obama indicated he would detail his plan to deal with Islamic State on Wednesday.