Abd al-Halim Abu Ghazala

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Mohammad Abd al-Halim Abu Ghazala
Lieutenant General Abu Ghazala.jpg
General Abu Ghazala
Minister of Defence of Egypt
In office
President Hosni Mubarak
Prime Minister
Preceded by Ahmed Badawi
Succeeded by Youssef Sabri Abu Taleb
Personal details
Born (1930-01-15)15 January 1930
Beheira, Egypt
Died 6 September 2008(2008-09-06) (aged 78)
El-Galaa' Military Hospital, Egypt
Political party Independent
Religion Islam
Military service
Allegiance  Egypt
Service/branch Army
Years of service 1948/1950 – 1989
Rank EgyptianArmyInsignia-FieldMarshal.svg Field Marshal
Commands Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
Battles/wars Suez Crisis
Six-Day War
Yom Kippur War

Mohamed Abd al-Halim Abu Ghazala (1930-2008) (محمد عبد الحليم أبو غزاله) was Defense Minister of Egypt from 1981 to 1989, when Egyptian president Mubarak removed him from office due to claims that he was involved in a missile-parts illegal import scandal from the United States, by violating U.S. export laws.[1] The USA did not allow exporting certain materials used for making missile heads to the Egyptian military. So the Egyptian intelligence under Abu Ghazala's commands managed to import those materials indirectly though Germany in a highly complicated undercover intelligence mission, until the FBI found out about the mission and issued arrest warrants for the involved Egyptian Intelligence officers and an involved Egyptian missile scientist.

Early life and education

He was born in Zuhur Al Omara Village, Dilingat, Behera governorate, in February 1930.[2] His family descended from "Awlad Aly" tribe. After completing his secondary education, he joined the Egyptian Royal Military Academy, then he received the battalion command diploma from Stalin Academy in the Soviet Union in 1949. He also graduated from Nasser Academy for higher military education (Cairo 1961). On the civilian studies side, he received a bachelor's degree from the faculty of commerce, Cairo University. Abu Ghazala received the diploma of honor from the National War College in the U.S., thus being the first non-American to receive such an award.[3]


Field Marshal Abd al-Halim Abu Ghazala was the artillery commander in chief during October War of 1973. When Minister of defense and military production, Ahmad Badawi, died along with 12 senior officers in a helicopter crash on 2 March 1981\ Anwar Sadat appointed Abu Ghazala minister of defense and military production.[4]

He did not participate in the Six Day War of 1967 as he was serving in the Western Desert.[citation needed]

He was also involved with Gust Avrakotos and Charlie Wilson in supplying weapons to the Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet Afghan war. The CIA bought the weapons and passed them through Pakistan's ISI to the Afghan rebel groups. Items included .303 ammo for Lee–Enfield rifles, limpet mines, and urban terrorist devices like bicycle bombs. There were also a number of rockets that some believe was the Katyusha.[5]

Project T and removal

The project T is part of the tri-national program with Argentina, and Iraq to develop a two-stage solid and liquid propellant missile with a range of 900 kilometres (560 mi). This program was referred to in Argentina as the Condor 2, and in Iraq as the Badr 2000.

The Project T missile is a Scud-B variant, whose payload was probably reduced in order to extend its range.[6]

On 15 April 1989, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak removed and replaced Abu Ghazala amid allegations that he was involved in an alleged scheme to transfer restricted missile technology from the United States[7] to assist the R&D for Project T. Although the United States Justice Department has said it was investigating whether General Abu Ghazala was involved, he has not been charged with any wrongdoing.[1] Abu Ghazala was appointed as a consultant for the President. Egypt is believed to have terminated the program.[8]

Throughout his tenure as Minister of Defense, Abu Ghazala was widely perceived as the second-most powerful man in Egypt, and a potential rival for power to Hosni Mubarak. His removal from office, and subsequent disappearance from public life, were seen as politically motivated.[citation needed]

2005 elections

In 2005, Abu Ghazala was briefly rumored to be a presidential candidate for the powerful but illegal Muslim Brotherhood.[9] He finally did not run, and the Muslim Brotherhood did not field a candidate in the first contested Egyptian presidential elections. The Muslim Brotherhood offered him to run as their presidential candidate, but he refused due to their different ideological backgrounds.


Abu Ghazala died on 6 September 2008 at El-Galla Military Hospital in Cairo at the age of 78 after a battle with throat cancer.[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Stevenson, Richard W. (25 October 1988). "Egyptian Minister Named in Missile-Parts Scheme". The New York Times. p. 25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Abu Ghazala, Abdel Halim". Rulers. Retrieved 13 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "الأخبار - وفاة المشير أبو غزالة وزير الدفاع المصري السابق عربي". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 24 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Milestones". Time. 16 March 1981. Retrieved 1 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Charlie Wilson's War, George Crile, 2003, Grove/Atlantic.
  6. Jane's Defence Weekly, and AMI International's "Missile System of the World"
  7. [1][dead link]
  8. Patrick E. Tyler, "Mubarak reassigns key depute; move said face-off with defense chief," Washington Post, 16 April 1989; in Lexis-Nexis, <http://www.lexis-nexis.com[dead link]>
  9. Namatalla, A., Newsreel, Egypt Today, August 2005. URL:http://www.egypttoday.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=5610[dead link]
  10. Joffe, Lawrence, September 2008. Obituary: Abdel-Halim Abu Ghazala The Guardian.