Kamal Adham

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Kamal Adham
Director General of Al Mukhabarat Al A'amah
In office
MonarchKing Faisal
King Khalid
Succeeded byTurki Al Faisal
Personal details
Istanbul, Turkey
Died29 October 1999 (aged 69–70)
Cairo, Egypt
Spouse(s)Nadia Sammakieh
ChildrenFaisal, Maishaal, Sultan, Sarah
Alma materVictoria College
Cambridge University

Kamal Adham (1929 – 29 October 1999) (Arabic: كمال أدهم‎) was a businessman and former director general of Saudi Arabia's Al Mukhabarat Al A'amah or the general intelligence directorate. He served as a royal counsellor to both King Faisal and King Khalid.

Early life and education[edit]

Kamal Adham was born in Istanbul 1929.[1][2] His father, Ibrahim Adham, was a police officer, who was of Albanian origin.[3] His mother, Asia, was Turkish.[1][4] Adham had two half-siblings, including Iffat Al Thunayan, and a full-brother, Muzaffar.[3]

Adham went to Jeddah with his father when he was one year old.[1][2] He was raised by King Faisal, spouse of his sister Iffat.[5]

Adham studied at Victoria College in Alexandria[6] and then at Cambridge University.[1] He was fluent in Arabic, Turkish, English and French.[1]


King Faisal appointed Kamal Adham as head of Al Mukhabarat Al A'amah (later renamed General Intelligence Presidency, GIP) in 1965, making him the first president of the GIP.[7][8] Adham's tenure lasted for fourteen years until 1979 when he was replaced by Turki bin Faisal in the post.[5][9] Therefore, he also served as the head of the GID during King Khalid's term.[10]

Adham also served as royal counsellor to King Faisal and then, to King Khalid.[11][12][13] Adham was among the close advisors to King Khalid throughout the latter's reign from 1975 to 1982.[14]

Activities as the GIP head[edit]

Adham was very crucial in maintaining the relations with Egypt.[4] CIA financially supported Anwar Sadat, then vice president of Gamal Nasser, through Adham when Sadat had financial problems.[15] Adham was also sent by King Faisal to meet Sadat in May 1971, shortly after he was sworn in as president.[16] Adham tried to persuade him to cooperate with the US.[17] In the meeting, Sadat stated that after the completion of the Israeli withdrawn from Egypt, he would expel the Soviet forces from Egypt.[16] He also assured that Adham could transmit his message to the US administration.[16] As a result of Adham's visit, Sadat expelled nearly 16,000 Soviet advisors from the country in 1972.[14] Adham told his associates in 1972 that the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, would be removed.[18] His prediction was not taken into consideration or shared by advisors of the then US president Nixon.[18]

Adham acted as a liaison between the GIP, which reported to the king, and the US administration.[19] Additionally he was the primary laison of the CIA for the Middle East as a whole from the mid-1960s to 1979 when he left the GIP.[15] He fostered and maintained nascent ties with several Arab intelligence services, as many were slowly creating independent institutions to serve their respective governments. Adham closely worked with George H. W. Bush, who was appointed CIA director in 1976.[20][21]

Adham signed the charter of the Safari Club, an anti-communist foreign policy initiative proposed and realized by French intelligence chief Alexandre de Marenches, on behalf of Saudi Arabia in 1976.[22] The other participating countries of the Club were Egypt, Iran and Morocco.[23] The first meeting of the group was held in Saudi Arabia in 1976.[22] Adham became a significant figure in the Club and worked for it for a long time.[2]

Business activities[edit]

Adham also had business activities, for which he used his connections with the House of Saud.[21] His business dealings began in 1957, long before his post as the head of the GIP.[2]

He founded the Kamal Adham Group in Saudi Arabia, which became one of the biggest companies in the country.[24][25] Raymond Close, a former CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, left CIA and began to work for Adham in 1977 when he was the head of the GIP.[2][26] Adham was also one of the major shareholders of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). Alongside his Business partner, Mr Sayed Al Jawhary.[27] In 1972, he met the founder of the BCCI, Agha Hasan Abedi.[2] The same year Adham founded a contracting firm, Almabani, in Saudi Arabia.[28] He and Mr Sayed al Jawhary were involved in many works in Egypt. In addition, his works with Mr Jawhary led them into investing in Adham's businesses in Saudi Arabia and places such as Marbella and Palma de Mallorca. He was one of the early shareholders of the influential media company, Saudi Research and Marketing.[29] In addition, he had investments in Egypt, owning 4% of Delta Bank. And 2% to Mr Al Jawhary[16] He also became a business associate of Anwar Sadat's spouse, Jihan Sadat, and other members of the Sadat family.[2] In 1978, Adham founded a construction company, Freyssinet, in Saudi Arabia.[30] Adham along with Adnan Khashoggi and Sayed Al Jawhary was one of the founders of the gold company, Barrick Gold Corporation that was established in 1983.[31]

In 2001, his son Mishaal was named as the chairman of the Kamal Adham Group.[24]


In 1961, then Saudi oil minister Abdullah Tariki claimed on evidence that Adham, who was dealing with business at that time, got 2% of the profits from the Arabian Oil Company that had been cofounded by Saudi Arabia and Japan.[32]

Adham involved in the huge BCCI scandal at the beginning of the 1990s.[33] The US prosecutors accused him of playing a key role in the secret and illegal takeover of First American bank by BCCI.[15] [34] He and Sayed Al Jawhary agreed to pay a staggering amount of $105 million fine in return for a reduced sentence.[35] [5] As a result of this incident, Adham was barred from the finance sector.[35]

Personal life[edit]

Kamal Adham wed in 1957. He fathered four children, three sons and a daughter.[36]


Kamal Adham died of a heart attack in Cairo on 29 October 1999.[10][11] He was 71.[37] His body was brought back to Saudi Arabia for burial.[36]


The Kamal Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism was founded under the American University in Cairo in 1985. The center was financially supported by Kamal Adham who was a member of Board of Trustees of the University.[38]


  1. ^ a b c d e Joseph A. Kechichian (12 February 2010). "The man behind the scenes". Gulf News. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g John Cooley (20 June 2002). Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism. Pluto Press. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-7453-1917-9. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  3. ^ a b Joseph A. Kechichian (20 January 2012). "Self-assurance in the face of military might". Gulf News. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  4. ^ a b Linda Blandford (21 April 1977). "In Jeddah, the future arrived yesterday". The Miami News. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  5. ^ a b c David Leigh; Rob Evans (8 June 2007). "BAE Files: Kamal Adham". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  6. ^ "About the Bin Laden family". PBS. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  7. ^ Dean Baquet (30 July 1992). "After Plea Bargain by Sheik, Question Is What He Knows". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  8. ^ "Prince Nawaf new intelligence chief". Arab News. 1 September 2001. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  9. ^ "Takeover figure guilty in case involving IBCCI". The Milwaukee Sentinel. 29 July 1992. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  10. ^ a b "Kamal Adham". Edward Fox. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Adham Center Founder Sheikh Kamal Adham Remembered". Adham Center. 15 December 1999. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  12. ^ Nick Luddington (5 April 1975). "King Faisal's eight sons". Lewiston Evening Journal. Jeddah. AP. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  13. ^ Nick Thimmesch (7 April 1977). "The Egyptian-Saudi peace axis". The News Dispatch. Washington. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  14. ^ a b "Obituaries in the News". AP. Riyadh. 30 October 1999. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  15. ^ a b c "BCCI, the CIA and foreign intelligence". Federation of American Scientists. 1992. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  16. ^ a b c d Gil Feiler (2003). Economic Relations Between Egypt and the Gulf Oil States, 1967-2000: Petro Wealth and Patterns of Influence. Sussex Academic Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-903900-40-6. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  17. ^ Joseph J. Trento (21 March 2006). Prelude to Terror: The Rogue CIA And The Legacy Of America's Private Intelligence Network. Basic Books. p. 238. ISBN 978-0-7867-3881-6. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  18. ^ a b Joseph Trento; Susan Trento (27 July 2009). "The United States and Iran: The Secret History Part One: Carter and the Shah". DC Bureau. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  19. ^ "The ghost of a Saudi billionaire haunts U.S. war on terror". The United Jerusalem Foundation. 13 June 2002. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  20. ^ "Bush: Middle East ties deserve to be part of 2004 political debate". Eugene Register Guard. 18 January 2004. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  21. ^ a b Jonathan Beaty; Samuel C. Gwynne (1 January 2004). The Outlaw Bank: A Wild Ride Into the Secret Heart of Bcci. Beard Books. p. 275. ISBN 978-1-58798-146-3. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  22. ^ a b Rachel Bronson (1 May 2006). Thicker than Oil:America's Uneasy Partnership with Saudi Arabia. Oxford University Press. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-19-974117-5. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  23. ^ Peter Dale Scott (5 August 2007). The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-520-92994-4. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  24. ^ a b Saud Al Tuwaim (18 February 2001). "Mishaal gets control of Adham Group". Arab News. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  25. ^ "Kamal Adham Group". Zawya. 27 August 2007. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  26. ^ "Dangerous Times". The New York Sun. 29 November 2006. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  27. ^ Christopher Byron (28 October 1991). "The Senate look at BCCI". New York Magazine: 20–21. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  28. ^ Christopher Sell (17 March 2010). "Almabani General Contractors" (Press release). Almabani. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  29. ^ Jon B. Alterman (1998). "New Media New Politics?" (PDF). The Washington Institute. 48. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  30. ^ "KSA's Big 25 list of construction companies". Construction Weekly. 31 March 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  31. ^ Rachel Verdon (2 February 2012). Murder by Madness 9/11: The Government & the Goon Squad. Rachel Verdon. p. 319–. ISBN 978-1-4699-7022-6. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  32. ^ Marius Vassiliou (24 September 2009). The A to Z of the Petroleum Industry. Scarecrow Press. p. 496. ISBN 978-0-8108-7066-6. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  33. ^ "Adham The Untouchable". New York Magazine: 25–26. 7 October 1991. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  34. ^ Dean Baquet (28 December 1993). "Saudis Pay $225 Million To Settle a B.C.C.I. Case". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  35. ^ a b Robert C. Effros (3 April 1997). Current Legal Issues Affecting Central Banks,. International Monetary Fund. p. 382. ISBN 978-1-55775-503-2. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  36. ^ a b "Saudi advisor to Kings dies". Associated Press. Riyadh. 30 October 1999. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  37. ^ "Kamal Adham,71, an adviser to the late Saudi Kings Faisal". The Baltimore Sun. 1 November 1999. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  38. ^ "The Kamal Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism". The American University in Cairo. Retrieved 12 May 2012.