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Carlos Takes Tinseltown? He Could've Been a Terror

August 24, 1994|ROBIN ABCARIAN

It's not easy being a pudgy former terrorist in the throes of a midlife crisis.

Although initial reports indicated that Carlos, the infamous international operative, was arrested 10 days ago at a Sudanese hotel, a London newspaper reported Sunday that French agents actually nabbed him in a hospital. According to The Observer, he was picked up just after receiving general anesthesia in preparation for surgery.

The French were able to make their move thanks to Egyptian authorities, who had provided the French with a detailed dossier on Carlos, complete with pictures and videotapes. In one of the tapes, he is shown socializing at Khartoum parties, and in at least one instance, his girlfriend "chides him for not taking better care of his appearance."

News reports chronicling the terrorist's hard-living ways suggest to me that the surgery from which he might have benefited most is a liver transplant. But Carlos--who has used his wits and cunning to elude authorities for more than two decades--could not, apparently, elude the perils of his own appetite . . . or his girlfriend's nagging.


So what kind of surgery was the scourge of counterterrorism about to have?


The objective: removal of excess fat from his midriff.

But his unsightly bulges are dwarfed by the rest of his problems. Having failed in his misguided efforts to cripple the running dogs of capitalism, Carlos, after 20 years on the lam, has become not only fat but beside the point.

"A whiskey-swilling Communist who doesn't believe in God isn't much use to any Islamic government," said one former CIA official. "For most of the last decade, he's been dead drunk in Damascus."

"He's a terrorist emeritus," said a counterterrorism expert.

So what's a terrorist emeritus to do?

According to my highly placed sources, Carlos had decided to take the next train to Tinseltown.

Which is how the French agents came to find him on a Sudanese gurney, moments away from terminating those unsightly love handles.


Liposuction, you see, was merely a first step in the repackaging of Carlos.

The next steps would include lipo-reinjection, getting a good agent, learning to work the crowd at Morton's, joining a 12-step program, and hitting the talk-show trail with segments on "Your Wounded Inner Terrorist."

Through my sources, I was able to beat out Vanity Fair and Diane Sawyer for an exclusive interview with Carlos about his career aspirations.

He told me he hopes to position himself as a cross between a Marxist Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rodney Dangerfield--a revolutionary who can't get no respect.

Ridiculous, really, but no more outlandish than the life he has already lived.

He sees himself as a leading man, naturally, with a love life as explosive as any of his missions.

"You think terrorism is tough?" he said. "I'll tell you what's tough. Juggling a girlfriend and a wife, that's what. My wife is a former terrorist herself, you know.

"For years, I spent half my time making up excuses for why I wasn't anywhere near a kidnaping I was supposed to be masterminding, and the other half checking under my car for explosives my wife might have planted."

That's what I call stress, I told him. Maybe that's why you let yourself go.

"Sure it is. I can't get a home-cooked meal, because I don't have a home," said Carlos. "I busted my buns trying to tilt the balance of world power, and all I get is two women telling me how fat I am."

Sounds like they just don't understand you, I said.

"That's why I went in for the liposuction," he said. "It was easier than listening to them complain. And you know, I didn't have Sudanese health insurance, so I was footing the entire bill with money I had managed to save from a few Paris bombings I had organized back in the early '80s.

"What a joke. I thought I was going to wake up 10 pounds lighter; instead I woke up in handcuffs. And the damn hospital in Khartoum won't give me a refund.

"That's gratitude for you. Do you know how much business I've thrown to hospitals? A lot, that's how much."

Sounds like you're underappreciated, I said.

"For years, I did other people's bidding--with no pension, no sick time, no vacation pay--then they toss me aside like a piece of rotten meat.

"How do they thank me? By ratting me out for a few lousy public relations points, the sharks. There's no loyalty in this business anymore."

Sounds like he's got potential.

But I don't know. Hollywood might just eat him alive.

* Robin Abcarian's column is published Wednesdays and Sundays.

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