Salah is the SIU's Distinguished Scholar for 2006 - 2007. Like Chris Lowery and Ed Benyas, a wonderful person who is a pleasure to know. But, I'm sorry he is just lucky (not just because he sat next to my father in math all these years and is a family friend either).
You could claim there aren't many superstar professors who come from a small town in Africa and rise to be an internationally known mathematician, but without great luck this guy wouldn't be anywhere. Without scoring the one of the highest scores in his country, he wouldn't have gone to college (so lucky there), without doing well in college he wouldn't have gone to England for a PhD. All those papers and acclaim are just luck.
Really, anyone in the math department would be as lucky if they just chose the right field of study. Stochastic Analysis is wide open, anyone could do well there. It is like high tech IPO's in the 1990's.
It is almost like SIU is playing spin the bottle when awarding their Distinguished Scholar Awards. Anyone can do what Salah as done, he is just lucky.