Not-so-magnificent obsessions


Compulsions are ideas or impulses that repeatedly well up in the mind: They can infect dictators and inspire filmmakers.

We were reminded of that by a forthcoming autobiography by Kola Boof, 37, a Sudanese poet and novelist. She claims to have been Osama bin Laden's sex slave and contends in her book that the al-Qaida terrorist leader was so obsessed with the singer Whitney Houston, he wanted to marry her and contemplated killing her husband, Bobby Brown. The item, first reported in the New York Post, summoned other peculiar fascinations of madmen - suspected and confirmed:

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, best known for threatening nuclear brinkmanship with the free world, has long been a fan of basketball star Michael Jordan. Though his citizens are shielded from Western media, the 5-foot, 3-inch Kim would reportedly watch Jordan's Chicago Bulls at home on satellite television. When then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited in 2000, she presented him with a Jordan-signed basketball.

John Mark Karr, facing charges in the 1996 slaying of JonBenet Ramsey, had a fondness for the 2004 movie Finding Neverland, which starred Johnny Depp as Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie. As part of a lengthy series of e-mails to a university professor that led to his arrest last week, Karr wrote that he identified with Peter Pan's connection to children.

John W. Hinckley Jr., after repeatedly watching the 1976 movie Taxi Driver, which is about an aspiring assassin, developed an obsession with Jodie Foster, who played a child prostitute in the film. He tried to impress Foster in March 1981 when he shot President Ronald Reagan, press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent and a Washington policeman. Hinckley was found not guilty of the shooting by reason of insanity and confined to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, although he has been allowed extended visits with his parents.

Idi Amin, the late Ugandan dictator who is alleged to have carried out the torture of hundreds of thousands of his people during his 1971-79 reign, loved Walt Disney's Donald Duck cartoons.

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