When Kamal Derwish moved back to Lackawanna in 2000, he lived with his uncle until Goba volunteered to split an apartment with him. Derwish then began holding regular get-togethers at the apartment, where a group of upwards to 25 young Muslim men would get together to discuss religion and eat pizza. Goba and Jaber Elbaneh tended to "compete" for the attention and favour of Derwish, who spoke of his travels abroad and ostensible history fighting in Palestine. He applied for a new passport, noting that his old one had been destroyed after being thrown in the washing machine in a shirt pocket. Authorities believe and have averred that he was trying to erase incriminating visa stamps marking his overseas visits.