Meet the Free Officers of Egypt's Revolutionary Command Council

Zeinab El-Gundy and Karim Abdel Kodos, Thursday 23 Jul 2015

Ahram Online sheds light on the Free Officers, from the well-known to those who fell into complete obscurity

The Free Officers
Meeting of the Egyptian "Free Officers" in Cairo in 1952. The Free Officers forced King Faruq 23 July 1952 to leave the throne and replaced him by his son King Fouad. Mohammed Nagib (2R) Gamal Abdel Nasser (3R) Anwar al-Sadat (From 4L). (AFP)

Mohamed Naguib

Mohamed Naguib

Mohamed Naguib was the primary leader of the Egyptian revolution in 1952 and the first president of the Republic of Egypt after its establishment on18 June 1953.

Along with Gamal Abdel-Nasser, Mohamed Naguib led the Free Officers movement, which ended the Mohamed Ali Dynasty that ruled over Egypt and Sudan from 1805 until 1952.

Naguib was born on 20 February 1901 and he joined the Egyptian Army in 1918. He was successful in his military career, but on a number of occasions he attempted to resign in order to protest the monarchy's concessions to the British. King Farouk rejected his resignation.

Naguib was eventually pressured to resign in 1954 due to disagreements with Abdel-Nasser. He was put under house arrest for 18 years, until President Anwar El Sadat released him in 1972.

Gamal Abdel Nasser

Gamal Abdel-Nasser

Gamal Abdel-Nasser was the second president of the Republic of Egypt. He succeeded Mohamed Naguib and came to power in 23 June 1956.

After Nasser came to power, his foreign policy included supporting Algerian independence and resisting American and British will, which led the two countries to refuse funding for the construction of the High Dam in Aswan. As a reaction, Nasser decided to nationalize the Suez Canal, which was under British control.

Throughout the Nasser era, Pan-Arabism ideology was at its peak. Nasser (18 January 1918 - 28 September 1970) is not only seen as the greatest leader of Egypt, but of the Arab world. 

Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat

Anwar El Sadat

Anwar El Sadat was the third president of Egypt. 

He was born on 25 December 1918 and graduated from the Royal Military Academy in Cairo. He went on to serve in Sudan where he first met Gamal Abdel-Nasser.

Sadat, who was vice president to Nasser, came to power on 15 October 1970, one year following the former president’s death.

Throughout the Sadat era, which lasted for 11 years, he completely changed the state of Egyptian politics and economics. He reinstituted a multi-party system and implemented the "Infitah" economic policy that encouraged domestic and foreign investments in Egypt.

Sadat was a hero on the local and regional level after the October 6 War, or Yom Kippur War, against Israel. One of the outcomes of this war was the liberation of Sinai from its six-year occupation by Israel.

However, Sadat lost a large number of supporters after entering into negotiations, and signing a peace treaty, with Israel at Camp David. As a result, the Arab League suspended Egypt's membership.

Sadat was assassinated by a radical Islamist on 6 October 1981.

Abdel Hakim Amer

Abdel-Hakim Amer

Abdel-Hakim Amer became the Minister of Defense for Egypt in 1956, and was appointed as the first vice president for Nasser in March 1964.

Born in 11 December 1919, Amer graduated from the Royal Military Academy in Cairo in 1938 and participated in 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the Suez Crisis, the North Yemen Civil War, and, finally, as Minister of Defense during the Six-Day War that ended his flourishing career.

After the Six-Day War, he was arrested for allegedly plotting a coup to overthrow Nasser. He was put under house arrest until his death in September 1967 at the age of 47.

Zakariya Mohieddin

Zakaria Mohieddin

Zakaria Mohieddin was born on 5 July 1918 and graduated from the Royal Military Academy in Cairo in 1938.

Mohieddin worked as a professor of tactics in the Officers Military College before the 1952 revolution. After Nasser’s resignation in 1967, Mohieddin was appointed by Nasser to take over his position as president, but Mohieddin refused. He was vice president of Egypt from 1961 to 1968, when he resigned from politics and public life.

He was considered among the founding fathers of the General Intelligence Directorate of Egypt in 1954.

He died on 15 May 2012 at the age of 93.

Gamal Salem

Gamal Salem

The Egyptian Air Force officer was born in 1918. He was the older brother of Salah Salem and graduated from the military academy in 1938.

Gamal Salem was a wing commander and a veteran of the1948 war. He and his brother Salah joined the Free Officers. 

In 1956 Salem served as Deputy Prime Minister. According to President Sadat's memoirs, due to Salem's short temper, Nasser limited Salem's powers and his political role. His health began to deteriorate after suffering from cancer in 1959. He died in 1968 at the age of 50.

Abdel-Latif El-Baghdadi

Abdel-Latif Boghdadi

Born into an upper class family in 1917 in Mansoura, Abdel-Latif Boghdadi joined the military academy and later the Egyptian air force academy where he graduated in 1939.

A 1948 Palestine war veteran, Boghdadi joined the Free Officers in 1950. In June 1953, he was appointed as the minister of defense. He held different positions since then including speaker of the First National Assembly.

In 1964, Abdel-Latif Boghdadi resigned from his positions in objection to Nasser's decision to send troops to North Yemen. Boghdadi was accused of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

He then retired from politics and moved on to business.

Boghdadi died from liver cancer in September 1999.

Kamaleddin Hussein

Kamal El-Din Hussein

Born in 1921 in Qalyubia, Kamal El-Din Hussein graduated from the military academy in 1939, where he taught at the staff college. A WWII veteran, he was among the founding members of the Free Officers following the 1948 war.

In 1952, he was appointed a member of the Revolutionary Command Council. In 1954 he became Minister of Social Affairs and, later, Minister of Education. He held several positions including Prime Minister in 1960. He resigned from his position as Vice President in 1964 due to Egypt's military intervention in Yemen, which he opposed.

In 1964, Nasser decided to put him and his wife under house arrest for criticizing and questioning his policies. Hussein was thought to be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He returned back to political life in the 1970's during the Sadat era, but once again he was banned from running for parliament in 1978 after criticizing Sadat. 

He died in Cairo in 1999 after battling liver cancer.

Abdel Moneim Abdel Raouf

Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Raouf

Born in 1916 in Cairo, Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Raouf had an interesting political life from an early age. He followed in his father's footsteps and entered the military academy in 1935. He later joined the Royal Air Force academy and graduated as an officer.

In 1942, he joined the Muslim Brotherhood movement and began recruiting other army officers in order to join, what he considered to be, Egypt's salvation from British Occupation and corruption. He also participated in founding the Free Officers movement.

Within a few years he was appointed to the Revolutionary Command Council, then later forced into retirement. In January 1954, he was arrested and detained at the military prison. In April 1954, he was sentenced to death. He managed to escape Egypt, living in Lebanon and Turkey for a decade.

When he returned, he was received by his old friend and then-president Anwar El-Sadat who not only issued a presidential decree to drop the death sentence, but he also promoted him to general. He died after a long illness in 1985.

Hassan Ibrahim

Hassan Ibrahim 

Born in 1917 in Alexandria, Hassan Ibrahim graduated from the Military Academy in 1927. Ibrahim, a 1948 Palestine war veteran and Air Force group captain, was among the first five free officers who formed the first cell of the movement with Gamal Abdel-Nasser. 

In November 1954, Ibrahim led ousted President Mohamed Naguib from Abdeen Palace to his exile in Cairo's Al-Marg suburb.

In 1956, Ibrahim was appointed as the head of the Egyptian economy agency. In 1964, Hassan Ibrahim was appointed as one of Nasser's seven vice presidents. In 1966, Ibrahim resigned from his position and retired from politics altogether for unknown reasons. Some say it had to do with his rejection of the nationalization policies. 

The former officer started working in business. He did not speak about his past as a free officer until 1975, when he broke his silence and spoke with Egyptian author Sami Gohar in his book "The Silent Ones Speak" where he heavily criticised Nasser.

He died in 1990.

Abdel-Moneim Amin

Abdel-Moneim Amin 

Born in 1912, Amin was the Lieutenant-Colonel on duty and played a huge role in the 1952 Revolution. He ordered his troops to blockade the Suez road east of Cairo and gave orders to arrest any officer trying to enter the city.

Amin resigned from the Revolutionary Command Council in 1953. He was appointed in 1954 as the ambassador of Egypt to Germany till 1956.

After that post, Amin withdrew from politics and became a businessman.

He died in 1996.

Hussein El-Shafei

Hussein El-Shafei

Hussein El-Shafei became cavalry officer in 1939 and joined the free officers in 1951.

After joining the Revolutionary Command Council, El-Shafei occupied several ministerial positions including Minister of Religious Endowments. He was appointed as vice president in 1963 and he was a member of the panel of judges in the Muslim Brotherhood tribunals in the mid 1960's. 

He was appointed as vice president by Sadat from1970 until 1974.

He died in Cairo in November 2005 at the age of 87. 

Salah Salem

Salah Salem

Salah Salem was an active member of the Revolutionary Command Council who was born in 1920 in Sinkat, Sudan. He graduated from Royal Military Academy of Egypt and Sudan in 1938, and graduated from the General Staff College in 1948.

Salem Worked as the Minister of National Guidance and Minister of State for Sudanese Affairs. He was also appointed by Nasser as the Editor in Chief of Al-Shaab newspaper, and later the Chairman of the Press Syndicate.

He died on 18 February 1962 at the age of 41.

Youssef Siddiq

Youssef Seddik

Youssef Seddik graduated from the Military Academy in 1933 and joined the Free Officers Movement in 1951.

He took the lead in military action during the 1952 revolution when he moved his forces to take control of the Egyptian Army Headquarters.

Seddik was in conflict with the Revolutionary Command Council when he showed opposition to some of its decisions. Accordingly, he resigned from the council in 1953.

He died in 1975 at the age of 65 after Sadat sent him to Moscow for medical treatment.

Khaled Mohieddin

Khaled Mohieddin

Khaled Mohieddin graduated from the Military Academy in 1940. He joined the Free Officers Movement in 1943 and had a major role in the revolution, as he commanded his armed units through Cairo in July 23.

Along with Nasser, he wrote the first announcement of the revolution that was broadcast on Cairo Radio. He was put in prison once during the Nasser era and again under Sadat.

Mohieddin was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1970 and founded the National Progressive Unionist Party in 1976. He was a member of the Egyptian parliament from 1990 to 2005.

Khaled, who was born on 17 August 1922, currently lives in Cairo and is retired from politics. 

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