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Abdullah is the main antagonist of Disney's 1989 live action film Cheetah, which is based on the 1970 novel The Cheetahs by the late Alan Caillou. He is a ruthless and murderous poacher who wants to exploit Duma in a race against greyhounds and was responsible for the death of her mother.
Abdullah is an extremely aggressive, ruthless, greedy, egotistical, sadistic and bloodthirsty man who loves to hunt and poach animals for sport. He is also not above killing people whenever they get in his way, as shown when he tried to kill Susan when he caught her in his shed and planned to kill her and Ted after he's done exploiting Duma. When he was hired by Mr. Patel and Nigel to help them exploit Duma's speed in a race for a fortune, he figures that her skin would make him rich. He also lived in a secluded camp near Thompson's Falls in Jamhuri built by himself to avoid being caught by the police. Whenever Duma failed her racing tests due to her tame nature, Abdullah would treat her harshly by forcing her into a small cage and starving her to make her a more efficient predator. Despite his vicious nature, he is also a coward, as shown when he tried to run from Duma after she won the race.
The death of Duma's mother
Ted. I've found the mother. She's dead. (Ted Johnson: Dead?) Yes. Skinned by a poacher. You better go before the hunters come. (Ted Johnson: Right. A poacher. Then this may be a clue. Check this out.) (*Ted points out to Abdullah's footprints*) (Ted Johnson: These weird tire tracks and they don't go anywhere.) Not tire tracks. Shoe marks. Shoes made from old tire.
~ Morogo about the death of Duma's mother.
At one point during Ted and Susan's vacation in Kenya, Abdullah came across a mother cheetah and killed her, leaving her cub orphaned. He then takes her corpse away and skins her on his way back to his camp. Ted, Susan and their native friend, Morogo walk by and come across the cub. Morogo informs Ted about her mother's death and Ted notices the marks apparently made by tires, to which Morogo points out that they're actually shoe tracks with the soles made from tires. When Susan learns of this, she decides to keep the cub, as it's the only way for her to survive. Their parents reluctantly decide to keep the cub until their vacation is over and they name her Duma.
(*snags Duma by her neck*) She's ours!
~ Abdullah capturing Duma.
Six months later, while Ted and Susan are training Duma to release her into the wild, Abdullah is hired by two gamblers named Mr. Patel and Nigel to assist them in their plan to exploit Duma in a race against greyhounds and Abdullah realizes that her skin would make him rich. The following night, the three men arrive at Ted and Susan's house. Nigel is unable to find Duma and is on the verge of giving up, but Patel remembers Ted's whistle and plans to retrieve it to lure Duma into their trap. Abdullah and Nigel crack open a nearby window and Patel sneaks in. Patel eventually finds the whistle and manages to sneak past Ted unnoticed. He comes out and calls Duma with the whistle. Ted hears the whistle, but brushes it off. Nigel hands the snare pole to Abdullah and he lures Duma by tapping the pole against a plastic container. Unaware that this was a trap, Duma comes over and Abdullah snares her, while triumphantly claiming her to be theirs.
The tread marks were the same! It's the guy who killed Duma's mother!
~ Ted Johnson to his family after discovering the truth behind Duma's disappearance.
The next morning, when the Johnson family stops at Patel's store to get gasoline for the two teenagers to head back to California, Patel notices the tears in Susan's eyes and comments on how she must have lost her pet, prompting Ted to confront him. As Abdullah and Nigel look over with concerned expressions on their faces, Patel tries to dissuade Ted from learning about Duma's fate, but Ted notices that the bottom of Abdullah's shoe resembles the pattern at the time of Duma's discovery. This revelation makes Ted realize that Abdullah was the poacher who killed Duma's mother. Ted tries to convince his parents about Patel's scheme, but they dismiss his concerns and send him and Susan to the airport back home. However, they delay their flight and head back to Patel's store, only to find him gone. Patel's cousin refuses to reveal the location of Patel, but Susan offers to give him money and he reveals that he is at a secluded camp near Thompson's Falls in Jamhuri.
The first lesson she must learn is that there is no escape. Then we will train her to race. (Patel: But we need to know exactly how far she can run before tiring.) Yes, yes. We have an odometer. (Patel: Uh, she may resist.) She must learn that she's powerless and we are powerful. Let's begin now.
~ Abdullah explaining to his cohorts before training Duma.
Abdullah and his cohorts arrive at his camp and they lock Duma in a cage inside a barn. Abdullah enters the barn and decides to train Duma as he taunts her with a bone. While Ted and Susan set out on a two-day trek in the Great Rift Valley in search for Duma and the poachers, Abdullah gives Patel and Nigel instructions before training Duma. Their first test involves Duma's endurance outside the compound, to which Duma fails. The next day, while Morogo joins Ted and Susan on their quest, Abdullah starves and taunts Duma as he argues with Patel. The next test involves Duma's hunting strategy by pedaling a stationary bike with a rabbit attached to a rope, but she once again fails and they force her back into her cage.
Catching Ted and Susan
(Nigel: Well, what do we do now?) The authorities have long wanted me, and these children know too much. (Patel: If I... If I'm understanding you correctly, I cannot countenance this.) (Nigel: There's no time to argue about it now! Let's wait until after the race.) What do we do with them meanwhile? (Nigel: A cage of course.) (*Ted and Susan give a shocked expression*) Yes. Good. Then we leave for Nairobi immediately.
~ Abdullah locking Ted and Susan in a cage before they leave.
The next day, the three kids finally arrive at Jamhuri and manage to locate Abdullah's camp. Ted spots the poachers and tries to come up with a plan to confront them, but Susan and Morogo insist on sneaking in at nightfall. The following night, after the poachers leave the camp, Ted and Susan sneak into Abdullah's bedroom and come across a stack of fliers advertising Duma's race. Ted realizes Patel's plan to make money and they manage to find Duma locked in the nearby barn. Susan heads back to the shed to find something to break the lock, but Abdullah returns and jumps her. As Abdullah reaches for his knife to kill Susan, Ted comes in and Abdullah catches him in the act. Patel and Nigel arrive in the scene and the three men debate over what to do with the two teenagers. Abdullah plans to kill them, but Patel expresses his opposition against his idea until Nigel suggests on locking them in a cage in the meantime. While Morogo enters the compound in search for Ted and Susan, Abdullah and Nigel enter the shed to get their tools, but Morogo manages to hide from them by climbing up onto a rafter. As the poachers drive away with Duma to Nairobi Downs, Morogo frees the kids and they head after the gamblers to Nairobi Downs.
The officials have signaled that the greyhounds and cheetah are in their chutes. We are about to begin, and... they're off!
~ The announcer starting Duma's race with the greyhounds after Abdullah set her on the track.
The poachers arrive at Nairobi Downs the next morning and they introduce Duma to a group of spectators. Abdullah looks after Duma as he prepares for her race against the greyhounds, while Patel and Nigel begin gambling with the spectators, despite gambling being prohibited. While the three kids are being pursued by their parents and the police, they finally arrive at Nairobi Downs just as Duma's race starts. Duma takes an early lead in the race, but as the race progresses, Duma suddenly loses her burst of speed and the greyhounds take the lead. Ted notices his whistle being held by a security guard, snatches it from him and blows. This encourages Duma to regain her steam and win the race. Abdullah is shocked and the two gamblers lose the bet as the other spectators demand compensation for their bets.
Defeat and Arrest
Ah ha! Abdullah! (*picks Abdullah up by his shirt*) We've been after you a long time! (*the guard cuffs Abdullah*) Bad day for poachers, eh, Abdullah?
~ The security guard arresting Abdullah.
While the kids are reunited with their parents, Abdullah realizes that Duma is about to rebel against him and he runs away as Duma chases him down a tree line road. Ted convinces his family and friends that they should rescue Duma and they head out after them. Duma eventually manages to catch up to Abdullah and pushes him to the ground. Duma pins the wicked poacher down and Abdullah uses his glove to protect himself as Duma attacks him. The parents arrive and pull the cheetah off of him as they lead her away. Abdullah is then arrested by a security guard and is dragged away for his crimes.
Well, cheetah, you got some more work to do today. Are you going to be a naughty girl?
~ Abdullah to Duma.
(Patel: She... she cannot eat through the cage, Abdullah!) That's the point! If she's angry and she's hungry, then she chases the rabbit better. Like some food, cat? Too bad. You gotta earn it. (*Duma whines*)
~ Abdullah arguing with Patel and starving Duma.
Come here, cat. (*Abdullah grabs Duma's leash and pulls her into her box*) (Nigel: Come on, Duma. Back in the box.)
~ Abdullah and Nigel forcing Duma into her cage after she fails one of her tests.
(Nigel: Let's get a move on, Abdullah.) I must get my tools! (*Abdullah and Nigel enter the shed as Abdullah grabs his stuff, while Morogo hides as they leave*) (Nigel: Bit of bad luck for those children turning up.) Yes, for them.
~ Abdullah getting his tools before they go to Nairobi.
Paul Onsongo and Martin Okello would later appear in Mountains of the Moon, this time with Onsongo as a supporting character and Okello as a villain.
Abdullah is loosely based on a Galla hunter from Alan Caillou's original novel. In the book, the Galla hunted civets for his family and for a living, rather than for sport.
Ironically, despite his name being Arabic for "Servant of God", he was actually born in Africa. In addition, his actor was also born in Kenya.
The cheetah skin near Abdullah's bedroom window could possibly be Duma's mother.
When Abdullah tries to escape from Duma, he has the snare pole in his hands. However, a few shots later, he does not have it with him.
It is unknown why he thought he could outrun Duma when he knew that she could easily catch up to him. However, it is possible that he was more focused on thinking about her endurance and that she would quickly run out of steam after such a long race.
For some strange unknown reason, he did not get in his truck when he is being chased by Duma.
Before Duma's race, Abdullah's truck was parked in a neighborhood near Nairobi Downs, but when Duma rebelled against him, the truck is in the treeline road.
If one pays attention closely before Duma attacks Abdullah, he falls before Duma pushes him to the ground.