In the 1990s, Abu Salem spread terror in Mumbai through his extortion rackets. His particular targets were Bollywood and the construction industry. Nobody seemed too powerful or too well-connected for him to pursue. Directors Rakesh Roshan and Subhash Ghai escaped attacks and threats, music moghul Gulshan Kumar and builder Pradeep Jain were less fortunate. The killings and intimidation became so frequent and were carried out so publicly that ordinary people were fearful and the police were under unprecedented pressure to crack down.
In 2002, Salem was finally arrested in Portugal, where he was hiding. In 2005, he was extradited, arriving in India to a blaze of publicity. Salem, with his global connections, attractive partner (actress Monica Bedi), dapper makeover and involvement in the 1993 bomb blast was the face of the modern criminal lord.