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General Intelligence

General Intelligence

The Egyptian General Intelligence is the main intelligence apparatus in Egypt. It was established in 1954, two years after the military officers' movement overthrew the monarchy to create the Republic of Egypt. Zakaria Mohiuddin, one of the most prominent members of the Free Officers Movement, created it and was its Director. The General Intelligence is directly supervised by the President, who appoints the head of the General Intelligence, who holds the rank of Minister. As such, it is now supervised by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who appointed General Abbas Kamel. The General Intelligence Service is regulated by Act No. 100 of 1971, issued by the late President Anwar Sadat.

Since it was established, the General Intelligence has been headed by 21 directors, the most prominent and longest serving of whom was Major General Omar Suleiman (in post from 1993 to 2011). During the protests of 25 January, 2011, former President Mubarak appointed Suleiman as vice president of the country. As such, he was commissioned to negotiate with the political forces to end the protests and allow the departure of Mubarak from power in several months, but failed to do so. Suleiman, who was a strong candidate to succeed Mubarak in power after the revolution, and gave a famous statement on February 11, 2011, in which he announced the stepping down of President Mubarak, assigning the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to manage the country.

The majority of the General Intelligence directors worked as army officers, especially in the Military intelligence. However, Omar Suleiman, who spent a long time at the presidency of the General Intelligence and who served before as the head of the Military Intelligence, was able to create an independent presence for the General Intelligence Service. This was reflected in the files that the General Intelligence has handled, and the orders that Suleiman received from former President Mubarak concerning the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and the regional and international issues. Thus, two different spheres of influence formed and coexisted around the Military Intelligence and the General Intelligence Service. After the January 25, 2011 revolution, the General Intelligence Service witnessed several changes in its leadership. Murad Mwafi was appointed as its head. The former head of the Military Intelligence (2004- 2010), he was however soon sacked following the killing of soldiers in Rafah in August 2012. Then. President Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, appointed Major General Mohammad Raafat Abdul Wahed as his successor. Raafat was known for being a key cadre of the General Intelligence and had a long experience in communicating with the Palestinian factions. After the coup in 2013, Raafat was dismissed and interim President Adly Mansour appointed a new head of the General Intelligence on July 5, 2013, Mohammed Farid Al Tohami. Press reports said that Al Tohami was al-Sisi’s manager as the head of the military intelligence before being appointed head of the Administrative Control Authority in 2004, where he remained until his dismissal by Morsi in 2012.

These quick changes in the General Intelligence Service reflect its importance and role in the political struggle for power. In Egypt, for decades, there have been conflicts between the security services, and more specifically between the Military Intelligence, the General Intelligence Service and the State Security of the Ministry of Interior. The competition for media control illustrates this rivalry.According to press reports and independent experts interviewed by MOM Egypt’s researchers, the military intelligence has been seeking to acquire media outlets since 2013. It launched El Radio 9090 station, which –according to press reports- was co-founded by Abbas Kamel, al-Sisi’s Chief of staff at the time, through D Media Company. With the development of political events after 2013, D Media expanded to launch a television network (DMC), and acquired Al Nas religious channel.

In parallel, the General Intelligence has been seeking to build a media empire through the Egyptian Media Group and uses businessman Ahmed Abu Hashima as a front of its activity and investments. Since he was appointed, General Abbas Kamel showed the tight control the General Intelligence can have on the media sector. For example, he managed to convince businessman Ahmad Bahgat (Dream TV) to partner with the state. According to Mada Masr, Kamel accused the Chairman of D Media and head of DMC channels, Tarek Ismail, of bad performances, which led to his dismissal in October 2018. However, no official statement was published.Mada Masr website also reported that Kamel and the General Intelligence Service plans on convincing Turki Al-Sheikh, an adviser to Saudi King Mohammed Bin Salman, to invest in the Egyptian Media Group and get 51% of the shares. It is believed that these large investments from the General Intelligence in the media sector is fueled by undeclared funding from the region and specifically from the United Arab Emirates. However, no information is available on the size of investments owned by the General Intelligence Service. 

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