Hossam Khairallah
Sarah Mourad, Monday 7 May 2012

A career military officer with extensive experience in intelligence and international conflict resolution, Khairallah co-directed Egypt's foreign policy from behind closed doors for years.

Born on 22 July 1945, former intelligence officer Hossam Khairallah received a BA degree in military sciences in 1964, a BA degree in commerce in 1982 and conducted further studies in political intelligence sciences and management skills in the USA.

Khairallah spent around 29 years in the military from 1976 until 2004.

He is the grandson of Mohamed Hamed Khairallah, the police officer who accompanied late King Farouk during his departure from Cairo on 26 July 1952.

His father is Kamal Khairallah who was deputy interior minister during the 1970s and ended his career as the governor of Aswan in 1979.

Before the revolution

Khairallah worked for 12 years in the air force and reached the rank of captain. He took part in the Yemen War (1962-70) and the October War in 1973. He ended his military career in 2006 as head of the information and estimates in the General Intelligence Service.

Since 2005, Khairallah has been chairman of aninvestment company, and heads the New Cairo Sports Club since 2007.

He also works in the environmental field, representing Egypt at international conferences, in addition to political conferences regarding the Middle East crisis after the Madrid Conference in the early nineties.

He is also part of Egyptian-American dialogue, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) set up by the Arab Without Borders Centre in 2010 to build dialogue and understanding with US civil society groups on issues of peace and democracy.

Khairallah only recently spoke out against his former bosses.

He says he opposed the idea of Gamal Mubarak becoming president before the January 25 Revolution.

"Available information suggested that Gamal Mubarak was not qualified to become Egypt’s next president. I was sure that Gamal was being groomed for the job, although he was a conceited man with no ideas of his own," Khairallah said in a recent interview with Ahram Online.

According to the former intelligence officer, ousted president Hosni Mubarak undermined Egypt’s regional and international stature.

"The situation in Egypt over the past 30 years was one of stagnation and corruption. This was clear to everyone especially over the past five years. Life was getting harder for the average citizen, who didn’t get much trickle down from the 7- 8 percent growth," he told Ahram Online recently.

Mubarak’s lack of leadership also undermined Egypt’s role in the Palestinian issue, he added.

Revolution and beyond

Khairallah says he followed the revolution closely but did not go to Tahrir Square because it was imprudent due to the delicate nature of his former posts.

When Khairallah announced his decision to run for president on 2 January 2012 via the Democratic Peace Party, he was viewed as the army's candidate, but he strongly denied it, saying he left the military 35 years ago.

"I have consulted some of my colleagues informally, some of them were scared because of the financial issues I might face while others welcomed the idea. But I explained to them reasons for my desire to run," Khairallah said.

Khairallah supports a civil state, and equal rights for Copts and women.

"The church is an integral part of the country’s fabric, he explains and women are essential to the workforce as they support 40 percent of all Egyptian families.

Though secular in outlook, Khairallah says he is not concerned the Islamists might dominate political life in Egypt.

"The main challenge is economic performance, not political performance. With time, the Islamist currents will become more experienced and pragmatic. We mustn’t question anybody’s patriotism. If the Islamists fix the economy, this will give them some stability."


* Khairallah's career as an intelligence officer might be a favourable quality for people who yearn for an end to instability in the aftermath of the January revolution, especially with the withdrawal of Mubarak's former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman from the race.

Odds against

* Khairallah is not known well enough to the public.

* As a former leader in the ousted regime, Khairallah is not a viable option for pro-revolution Egyptians.

To view profiles of other major candidates in the 2012 presidential elections, click here.