lundi 9 juin 2014

Egypt : How Ibrahim Baghdadi Killed King Farouk.

Who was King Farouk of Egypt?

         King Farouk of Egypt was the penultimate King of Egypt, succeeding his father, Fuad I, in 1936. His sister Fawzia was Queen of Iran for a brief period. His full title was "His Majesty Farouk I, by the grace of God, King of Egypt and of Sudan, Sovereign of Nubia, of Kordofan and of Darfur".
         Upon his coronation, the 16 year-old king made a public radio address to the nation, the first time a King of Egypt had ever spoken directly to his people. His father, Fuad I, did not speak any Arabic and relied on representatives to make his wishes known to his subjects in their native language.

         The teenage monarch was enamored of the glamorous royal lifestyle. Although he already had thousands of acres of land, dozens of palaces and hundreds of cars, the king never seemed satisfied with his wealth. He would often travel to Europe for grand shopping sprees.

         During the hardships of World War II, criticism was leveled at Farouk for his lavish lifestyle. His decision to keep all the lights burning at his palace in Alexandria, during a time when the city was blacked-out due to Italian bombing, was deemed particularly offensive by some. The royal Italian servants of Farouk were not interned, and there is an unconfirmed story that Farouk told British Ambassador Sir Miles Lampson (who had an Italian wife), "I'll get rid of my Italians, when you get rid of yours."

The Thief of Cairo and the Coup of July 1952.

         As he got older, the king began pilfering objects and artifacts while on state visits abroad, including a ceremonial sword from the Shah of Iran and a priceless pocket watch from Winston Churchill. Common people were also often the victims of the kleptomania cal monarch, and by mingling with commoners Farouk soon became a highly-skilled pickpocket. His well-known panache for thievery soon earned him the nickname "The Thief of Cairo". This excess would be one of the leading sparks that triggered the 1952 military coup.

         The King's alleged corruption in Egypt and defeat during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, led to a military coup on July 23, 1952, directed by Gamal Abdel Nasser, who forced Farouk to abdicate and exiled him to Italy and Monaco, where the former king lived the rest of his life. Immediately following Farouk's abdication the monarch's baby son, Fuad II, was proclaimed king, but for all intents and purposes the monarchy had been de facto abolished. In 1953, it was formally abolished and a republic was declared.

         The new regime quickly moved to auction off the King's vast collection of trinkets and stolen treasures. Among the more famous of his possession was one of the rare 1933 Double Eagle coins, though the coin disappeared before it could be returned to the United States.

Too Rich : Farouk and his high life style.

         Farouk continued to live a lavish life even in exile, and continued his obsessive accumulation of material goods. His gluttony for fine cuisine soon made the former king dangerously obese, weighing nearly 300 pounds, an acquaintance described him as "a stomach with a head". He died in Rome, Italy on the early morning hours of March 18, 1965 where he collapsed and died at the dinner table, following a characteristically heavy meal.

         In addition to an affair with the British writer and siren Barbara Skelton, among numerous others, the king was married twice, possibly three times. His first wife was Safinaz Zulficar (1921-1988), a pasha's daughter who was renamed Farida upon her marriage; they married in 1938, divorced in 1948, and had three daughters. His second was a commoner, Nariman Sadeq (1934-2005); they married in 1951 and divorced in 1954; they had one son, Ahmed Fouad, a.k.a. Fuad II. In 2005, Irma Capece Minutolo, Princess of Canosa (1941-), a retired Neapolitan-born opera singer, declared in an interview published in Al-Ahram that she married to the exiled king in 1957, when she was 16, and that she was writing her memoirs of her life with him.

Ibrahim Baghdadi, the  official murder of Farouk*.

         When the Ex-governor General Ibrahim Baghdadi had passed away and some people believed that he took away with him the truth ; the truth of the enigmatic sudden death of King Farouk.  Ibrahim Baghdadi did not enter the Egyptian history because he was the Governor of Cairo but because he was accused of poisoning King Farouk in Italy.
         Ibrahim Baghdadi is and was widely accused for decades of being the man who poisoned King Farouk’s meal at Ile De France restaurant in Rome on  the 18th of March 1965 by the orders of Gamal Abdel Nasser and his fearful secret services. Of course the man till his death swore by God that he did not have a hand in Farouk’s death. He appreared on TV and made interviews annually to deny the charges that seemed to follow him till his grave. The man swore everyday in his life that he did not do it but unfortunately no one believed him because all the evidences revealed by time were against him.

The Undertaker.
         Officer Ibrahim Baghdadi was from the first generation of the Egyptian intelligence along with Zachariah Mohi El-Din, Mohamed Nassim, Salah Nasr and Fathi El-Dib. He is said to have the alias «undertaker» in the agency as he used to kidnap Nasser’s political dissidents from Europe bringing them drugged in coffins to Egypt. “The G.I.E. stopped that technique after some dissident had woke up in the coffin making noise in Rome international airport, I believe Ayman Nour and Saad El-Din Ibrahim are thankful they did not live the Nasserite Era in its worst times”
         In March 1965 he was in Rome at the same time that Farouk was, his justification was strange and increased suspicion; he was there on vacation where he used to work as a waiter in Ile De France restaurant, one of Farouk’s favourite restaurants!
         Ibrahim Baghdadi did not deny that he was in Rome despite from time to time he denied that he was working as a waiter. Needless to say, when he remembered that he worked as a waiter, he did not mentioned the reason why he was working in the United Nations delegation then Officially, he would go and work as a waiter in Rome?
         His weak justifications made him look guilty more especially that he was working in at the same restaurant Farouk had his last supper. You do not need too much brain to think that he poisoned his meal. The fact that when he returned back to Cairo and had become the governor of Monfia after 2 months of the incident stamped the crime on him. The promotion was like the reward.

Aconitine, the Nasser’s poison!

         According th him that rumour as he called was spread in Egypt after the six days war in 1968. Salah Nasr revealed in his infamous case investigation aka the scandal of the intelligence service that King Farouk was killed by highly poisoned and rare «Aconitine» in order to justify the disaprearance of huge Aconitine quantities from G.I.E. : "How much did they need in 1965 to poisoned Farouk and was it only Farouk that needed this quantity?"
         Aconitine just like the coffins was a signature of Nasser’s secret service to eliminate the enemies, after all poison is a perfect silent death. Aconitine is said to be the poison used to get rid from Abdel Hakim Amar, whose so-called suicide is just another X-File in Egyptian history. Aconitine is said to have no taste in guava juice and thus all the victims of  Nasser secret services were found to drink juice in their last meal according to the urban legend. Of course when you check the meal King Farouk ate in the last supper you won’t find guava juice but rather water, soda and coca cola according to what was announced.  It is widely believed that it is untraceable in autopsy but this is untrue. Of course there is no specific antidote for it up till now. It causes cardiac arrest if it is absorbed by skin in large quantity or digested. Farouk suffered from cardiac arrest if we want to be accurate. 

Revealed before its time.

         But it was not Salah Nasr who really  revealed it. It was before 1967 war and before Nasr’s case. In fact it was right after the sudden death of Farouk in 1965 that the name of Baghdadi began to appear as the prime suspect in a strange way. May be because my grand father was a journalist then he heard it but even if he had connections then how this very important information was leaked or even why. If we are talking from security and political point of views not from sentimental or moral point of view, you will be amazed how this operation was leaked in details like this. Such operation should not be revealed in that way after very short time or even no time taking in consideration that we are speaking about 1960s not 2009 where is a huge communication technology. The leak of such operation means burning an active field officer who was Baghdadi then exposing his cover forever and this what he had happened actually.
         Was a deliberate leak from the G.I.E. to brag their latest achievement? Was a deliberate leak from the Nasser regime to warn the Saudi Royal family not to mess with him! Well he did not need that  as they were already aware on how he would go. For me how this information was leaked with the name of the field officer and the kind of poison used in that time is another Egyptian X-File!

Farouk will die tonight.

         The rumour was repeated and somehow was detailed when Etmad Khorshid tell all book : «A witness on Salah Nasr perversity » was published in 1988. The book which is considered from the most important sources about the infamous intelligence scandal an dits trial did not miss this important mystery. Etmad says that Nasr was in her house on the 18th of March, when he was so worried, he told her that he was waiting for important telephone call from abroad, she was amazed that how gave her telephone number to his co-workers and how they would call him for important issue in her house. She continues saying that after acting like trapped tiger, he told: «Farouk will die tonight» and he was right Farouk died that night. Etmad says that she knew that the assassination of Farouk was led by Nasr’s aide “I.B” aka Ibrahim Baghdadi under the supervision of the Italian intelligence agency “Servizio Informazioni Difesa” and its spy chief whom Etmad claims that he was Nasr’s friend ! It is worth to mention that Etmad only mentioned the initials of “I.B” for fear she would be sued but everybody knew whom she was referring to.
         Etmad goes and says the Egyptian intelligence gave Farouk’s mistress one million dollar to poison him! I must hint out that Farouk during that time was on relation with Irma Capece Minutolo publicly and she was in Monte Carlo then. You will wonder whom Etmad meant, well you have to wait for a while! It is interesting enough to see that in Etmad’s version Bagdadi was more like a supervisor, he was not a waiter and did not put the poison himself, it was the king’s mistress as she called her who took one million dollar!
         This What was mentioned in Etmad’s famous book that topped the best selling books in Egypt in late 1980s and still causes controvery. Historians, experts and journalists do not take every word in this book seriously for several reasons starting from the fact that many people consider Etmad as a cheap woman not a victim plus some believe that her book is full of exaggerations. I saw Etmad in an interview and I believe she is a poor educated woman, who found herself inside a world she did not belong too nor she did fully understand. I do not believe her account of events because this woman only saw one dimension of the history. 

How I  did kill him!

         Then came Mahmoud Fawzy’s book «How I killed King Farouk!». Despite the fact that journalist Mahmoud Fawzy interviewed Baghdadi in the book, the conclusion you get from it that Bagdadi actually killed Farouk. Strangely despite Baghdadi was angry from Fawzy, he always appeared with him in TV Shows to reapeat the same defense and Fawzy reapeated the same accusation. With my all respect to Mahmoud Fawzy,  I am not that fond of him nor of his TV Shows which I believe is more like a channel to sell his books. Mahmoud Fawzy is just repeating the same popular story that Baghdadi disguised as a waiter and poisoned Farouk. Nothing  new to be added except that Baghdadi kept defending himself attacking the Royal family and Farouk.

Another book and another story.
         Dr. Latifa Salem said in her wonderful comprehensive biography “King Farouk” in the last chapter that king Farouk died after a meal and that there were rumours in Egypt that the Egyptian intelligence was behind his death. As professional unbiased historian Dr. Latifa did not dish on the G.I.E. intelligence not because for fear but because I believe the real historians need more solid proof from documents in their books than hear- say stories. Still Dr Latifa besides mentionning the theory in short reference, she mentioned very interesting fact that actually King Farouk wnet to dine with a lady friend called «Anna Maria» in Ile de France restaurant. Yes he ate too much but strangely when he began to feel sick at the end « Anna Maria » suddenly dispeared and up till now we do not know nothing at all about her!
         Anna Maria disappearance was suspicious for sure and it fits the scenario Etmad mentioned in her book that King Farouk’s mistress or rather lady friend had something to do with his death.   
The unpopular unknown story.

         Now  despite the popular story that late Baghdadi had killed Farouk, I have another story where Baghdadi had killed somebody too, but he was not  the man who actually poisoned King Farouk !
Yes you read it right; there was another secret service officer who did the dirty job and Baghdadi as a senior officer was making sure that the job was done 100%. The officer name was «Essam Al-Masry» and after finishing his dirty job, he went to Brazil to receive some orders, where he was poisoned by Baghdadi himself! He was poisoned by the same poison he used to kill King Farouk.
         I do not know how accurate this story is, but it is also a realistic scenario that is frequent in the dirty world of the secret services all over the world. Also if you notice it goes with what Etmad’s mentioned in her book that Baghdad was supervising the operation. 

A Possible scenario.
         All indications say that Farouk was killed, eating too much does not kill in that way. With the Italian intelligence cooperation, Nasser secret service sent Essam Al-Masry and Baghdadi as his supervisor to get rid from Farouk. Farouk had a meeting that night with a lady friend “Anna Maria” who was cooperating with G.I.E. for money, I believe the role of Anna Maria was not to poison Farouk but to persuad him to go to Ile De France on that particular night! Come on have you ever wondered why Farouk went to that restaurant on that particular despite, he could have gone to any other fancy restaurant in Rome! For sure Ile De France was not only favourite restaurant there. Al-Masry some how was working in the restaurant probably in kitchen itself not a waiter, where as Baghdadi pretending as a waiter, he made sure that the last supper reached to Farouk as it should. Of course there are 2 details I can’t keep them out of my mind ; the Italian accent and Egyptian facial features of Baghdadi. Farouk was not dump to know that waiter was not an Italian especially that he was fluent in Italian, also Baghdadi did not look Italian! These are side marks, of course they do not meant that I do not believe the accusations or the fact that Farouk was killed on that night.

The official death Story. 

         The official death story according to the Italian authorities; the former King of Egypt and Sudan ate too much leading to his death in other words Farouk had killed himself by his love to food!
         No autopsy was done by the request of Queen Farida who as soon as she heard the news arrived to Rome to take in charge and to help her daughters and step son, the young King. According to King Fouad II and Princess Farial, the former Queen refused the autopsy because it was against the islamic rituals, the Queen was bluffing and using the advantage that the young princesses and little king did not have enough religious information in order to protect them.
         Farida knew the door she was opening if she insisted on autopsy, if Farouk was found to be poisoned officially in front of the whole world. Young King Fouad II could be in danger along with his sisters, Farida knew how dangerous Nasser regime could be for sure.

Advocates of natural death causes.

         The opponents of King Farouk and Nasser supporters say that there was no need to kill the ex-king as he was no danger on Nasser, whose popularity exceeded Egypt to the Arab world.  Well the Nasserites can say what ever they want because in the end, Nasser was a politician and a president and for sure he considered Farouk as a danger on his status, after all he got rid from most of all the revolution council except very few for fear they were going to take his chair! Shall I remind you with Mohamed Naguib who was sent to an exile till Nasser’s death?
         The former King was under the eye of Nasser’s secret service especially in Italy and he knew it very well and that’s he avoided Egyptians in Italy for fear that they would meet trouble when they returned home. Salah Al-Shahad (palace chief of protocol during the final days of the monarchy), himself mentioned this in one of the books about his career in Royal then the Presidential palaces. Al-Shahad was in a visit to Italy when he found Farouk in the street, when he tried to approach to salute him, the later avoided him, but Al-Shahad insisted to sit with him.
         Of course when he returned to Cairo, Nasser asked him about the incident, Al-Shahad defended himself that this was his ex-boss and he would not accept to ignore him, believe it or not Nasser respected him. Anyhow this incident shows that Farouk was under the eye of Nasser’s secret service very carefully, you won’t send your men to put an eye 24/7 on a man that does impose a danger on you !
         Farouk despite what may appear in desperate images and careless public actions of an exiled King I believe he had from time to time hope that somehow the Mohamed Ali rule may return back to Egypt even if it were not him, it would be his son. The late ex-King insisted the young last King of Egypt Ahmed Fouad II to be educated in a military school preferably in U.K., Farouk did not want his son to repeat his mistake again, of course God had other plans, Farouk died and Ahmed Fouad II did not enter the military school. This was an important indicator.

The Saudi Royal‘s Plan for Farouk!

         The second indicator I did not read it but I gathered from different sources to form my own theory is that may be Nasser received an information from his secret service that Saudi Royal family was  working on getting Farouk back in some way or another. It was year 1965,we were stuck in Yemen War and the Egyptian-Saudi media war reached its epic. I do not have doubt that The Saudis thought of helping their old friend back to Cairo, their relations were so strong already.
         Back to Baghdadi, well he is dead now, the neo-royalists of course wish that he may rotten in hell, well I can’t share the same wish, all what I can say that may God mercy his soul as a Muslim. I believe that this man had killed many people regardless of whether he killed King Farouk or not. It was the divine revenge from the undertaker that he became in the memory of the generations as the murderer of King Farouk. It was the divine revenge that he would be accused and stained from all the secret service officers with that dangerous accusation and it was the divine revenge that he kept defending himself till the end but in vain.
         About whether Farouk was assassinated or not, well the truth has not been buried yet, it is not buried with late Baghdadi, it is buried in some file in the G.I.E. archive and I believe one day we will know the truth and close that Egyptian X-File after reading that G.I.E. file just like many other files.
*Published on May 17, 2009 by Abdullah El-Shamy in «Egyptian Chroniques».
Further Readings :
-McLeave Hugh, The last Pharaon: Farouk of Egypt, McCall Pub., Co, 1970.
-Kurhan Caroline, Le roi Farouk: Un destin foudroyé (King Farouk: A fate struck), Riveneuve, Paris, 2013.
-Sabet Adel, Farouk, un roi trahi (Farouk : a king betrayed), Balland, Paris, 1990.

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