The Strange Case Of ‘L’enfant’

The Marrakesh is a Moroccan restaurant in Washington, D.C. Starting in 1983, it was the target of a campaign of harassment by an unknown individual or a group of people. The workers at the restaurant simply referred to the caller as “L’enfant” (“the Young One”). Sometimes, L’enfant called with death threats. Other times, he just swore or would get very sexual. He also did characters. He pretended to be a Middle Eastern man, a small black child, and a little girl, just to name a few.

He would call the restaurant multiple times, almost every day. Getting 20 phone calls in a day wasn’t unusual for the restaurant. The crazy thing is that this went on for over a decade. During one especially busy period—which lasted for about four years—the restaurant received over 7,000 phone calls.As a result, there was a high turnover rate at the restaurant. People got sick of dealing with L’enfant. However, no one was affected nearly as much as Bashir Kouchacji, the manager of the restaurant. Kouchacji believed that he was the target of L’enfant, and it stems from an incident in 1974, when he was in Beirut. The Palestine Liberation Army kidnapped Kouchacji, because they thought he was a spy for the Mossad or a CIA agent.

He was held in a Palestinian refugee camp, where he was threatened daily. After attempting suicide, he was sent to the hospital, where he was able to get in contact with his family. They contacted the American Embassy, and he was finally released.When he was back in the US, Kouchacji and his sister opened the first Marrakesh restaurant in Philadelphia. Once it was successful, they decided to open a second one in Washington. That’s when the phone calls started. At first, it was just laughter or someone saying “tsk tsk.” It escalated from there and got so bad that Kouchacji became an angry and paranoid man. He lost lovers, friends, and employees over it. For years, he was in and out of psychiatric hospitals. Other evidence that Kouchacji points to is that his car was vandalized with the Star of David, his former girlfriend was threatened, and the phone calls followed him when he visited the Philadelphia restaurant.

The phone company and the FBI both tried to establish the identity of whoever was making the calls, but the only thing they could tell was that the calls came from pay phones all over the D.C. area. After 10 years, the phone calls were still happening but were less frequent.