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Nonsense! The borders are all closed. The sick are either quarantined or dead. I did not expend all these resources only to see my profits shrink!
~ Kazim about delaying the pollution.
Okay, Yves, as you please... close the plant! But your payments to me will continue... okay? (Massarde nods) Don't worry, it's Africa.... nobody cares about Africa.
~ Kazim's famous quote.

Zateb Kazim is the main antagonist of the 2005 comedy-adventure film Sahara, based on the 1992 novel of the same name. He is a notorious Malian warlord who controlled half of Mali until the events of the film.

He was portrayed by Lennie James.

History

According to history, Kazim was once a colonel in the Malian army, but started a coup against the Malian president by assassinating the latter and promoting himself as general and dictator of Mali. Because of this event, a civil war erupted between Kazim's forces and the peaceful Tuareg fighters (led by their leader Modibo).

During the beginning of the film, doctors from the World Health Organization (Frank Hopper and Eva Rojas) are investigating a disease spreading across Mali that causing many casualities. To that end, they get treasure hunters Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino to sail them to the borders of Mail so that they can investigate the source of the plague. Needless to say, businessman Yves Massarde informed Kazim about the doctors' whereabouts, so Kazim and his men ambushed the doctors and their team in the village of Asler that was once infected. After killing off Hopper and most of the team, Kazim orders his men to search out for Eva and destroy the village. However, Dirk and Al arrived to the rescue by killing five of Kazim's soldiers before rescuing Eva. Knowing that both Dirk and Al were once military veterans (as they served in the U.S. Navy) after hearing from the sole survivor of the ambush, Kazim orders Massarde and his forces to capture the trio at all costs.

Eva soon learns that the Niger River was contaminated with toxins that caused the disease just the trio soon found out that Massarde has built a solar detoxification plant, which happens to be the source of the toxins. They also learned that Kazim has captured several of Mobido's soldiers and has Massarde to force them to dump the toxins into an underground river beneath the plant connecting to the Niger River. It was then the trio realized of a horrible revelation: Kazim has been allowing Massarde to dump the toxins into the underground river in exchange for profit, and the contamination would reach the Atlantic Ocean within a week if not stopped, which would result a worldwide case of marine pollution. It also turns out that Kazim is aware of the pollution spreading out, but doesn't care as he still intends to continue profiting out from it (despite Massarde's warnings about the consequences).

Expecting the trio's arrival, Massarde lays out a trap on the trio, having two of his men to deliver Dirk and Al to Kazim while keeping Eva as his prisoner (with the help from his assassin Zakara). However, Dirk and Al escaped confinement, forcing an annoyed Kazim to gather his troops and search around the desert. When Massarde finally points out the world authorities would catch on to Kazim if the toxins are to reach the ocean, Kazim reluctantly orders Massarde to shut down the plant on the condition that his payments continue. Massarde tried to destroy the plant with explosives (which would make the pollution impossible to stop), but Dirk and Al allied themselves with Modibo to break into the plant and free the captured men. After letting Modibo and his men escape, Al steals away the explosives while Dirk finishes off Zakara and rescues Eva again, forcing a defeated Massarde to escape in a helicopter.

As Dirk, Al and Eva escape the plant on a car, Kazim ambushes them in his own helicopter, preparing to finish them off. Driving themselves into a dry river bed, the trio uses the explosives to draw Kazim and his pilot away, revealing an old ironclad called the Texas containing Confederate gold. As the trio takes refuge inside the ironclad, Kazim gets his troops to surround the ironclad and secure the perimeter as he personally intends to kill the trio. However, the trio uses one of the ironclad's cannons to fire a powdered cannonball into Kazim's helicopter, which causes the helicopter to explode, killing both Kazim and his pilot.

Following Kazim's death, Modibo returns with Tuareg reinforcements to force Kazim's remaining soldiers to surrender, thus ending the civil war for good. With Kazim's reign over, the plant is shut down while Massarde is poisoned to death by an undercover agent, and the Confederate gold is given to support the Tuaregs in their new government.

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