The Terrorist Who Wasn't

Hollywood's Manny Ebaid struggles to rebound after the War on Terror made him collateral damage.

Ebaid stops. He's exhausted. Later that night, after all of his employees have gone home, Ebaid sits at one of the tables. The lights off, he stares out the window for several hours, thinking, until finally he falls asleep.

Dressed in a loose button-up shirt and khaki pants on a recent evening, Ebaid moves around his restaurant, passing out menus and greeting customers. The dinner rush is ending, but the restaurant remains busy. Ebaid smiles. Business is good tonight.

Manny Ebaid
Colby Katz

That means Ebaid is guaranteed to be asked at least once what it's like to be an accused terrorist.

"These days, I have nothing to say when someone asks me, 'What happened?' I don't know the answer," he says. "What I did and why — the whole thing is a question mark. Sometimes, the story of what happened seems very dramatic, very passionate. And other times, it's like a comedy. It really is. You might not believe this, but I don't wish anything bad to happen to anyone who caused this. I don't wish bad on anybody."

Next door to Ebaid's restaurant, at Kelly's Pub, a T-shirt hangs in the window. It shows a cartoon image of Osama Bin Laden at a bar holding a pint of Guinness. "You won't find me any time at Kelly's," the T-shirt reads — and Ebaid considers it a backhanded reference to the restaurateur himself.

Every day, Ebaid wishes things were different. He wishes he could talk less about terrorism and more about falafel. But he's confident things will get better with time.

He raises his right arm and points toward the heavens.

"There is a big judge up there," he says. "One day, everybody will be judged."

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