Friday, November 18, 2005
Natural Born Killer: Abu Salem
(Photo by Aijaz Rahi/Associated Press)
Abu Salem, the guy in the yellow shirt above, was recently turned over to the custody of Indian authorities. He's been one of India's most wanted criminals, ever since the early 1990s, when he was involved in a terrorist attack that killed around 250 people, and injured thousands. He remained active in Bombay throughout the 1990s, and became particularly notorious for his widespread extortion and assasination of Bollywood personalities. Since 2002 he's been in jail in Portugal, while India has pursued his extradition.
There's something particularly pathological about targeting movie stars for extortion and assasination. The extortion part of it is fairly predictable -- I suspect anyone who's either rich or glamorous poses an obvious target. But what's unique about Abu Salem is how ready he was to murder people in the prime of their creative success. (Fortunately, two of his most prominent targets, Rakesh Roshan and Rajiv Rai, survived his attacks. Gulshan Kumar was not so lucky. See Rediff's charge-sheet here)
It reminds me a little of the Oliver Stone film Natural Born Killers, which plays with the cult of the serial killer, implying that in the U.S., flamboyant murderers become impromptu movie stars through the media storm they produce.
Abu Salem was in some sense the opposite -- someone who seems to have been drawn to glamorous and successful people, and who had the means and the will (perhaps tied to a psychotic personality) to destroy them.
It's strange; he has such baby-boy looks. In another life he might have been a movie star himself.