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General Mohammad Oufkir (Arabic: محمد أوفقير; 14 May 1920 − 16 August 1972) was a senior military Moroccan officer who held many important governmental posts. It is believed that he was assassinated for his alleged role in the failed 1972 Moroccan coup attempt.
|Born||14 May 1920|
|Died||16 August 1972(aged 52)|
|Cause of death||shot multiple times in the chest|
|Known for||Assassination attempt on Hassan II|
Mohamed Oufkir was a native of Ain-Chair, in the Tafilalt region, the stronghold of high Atlas Moroccan Berbers, in the south-eastern Morocco, where his father was appointed pasha by Hubert Lyautey in 1910. His great-grandfather was from Sidi Bel Abbes in Algeria northwest.
During World War II, he served with distinction in the French army (4th Regiment of Moroccan Tirailleurs) in Italy in 1944 where he won the Croix de Guerre. He was also awarded the Silver Star in 1944 by Major General Alfred M. Gruenther, general Clark's chief of staff, after the Battle of Monte Cassino. After the war, he fought with French forces in Vietnam from 1947 to 1949, where his bravery was dubbed "legendary". In 1949 he was promoted captain and named to the Legion d'Honneur.
As the right-hand man of King Hassan II in the 1960s and early 1970s, Oufkir led government supervision of politicians, unionists and the religious establishment. He forcefully repressed political protest through police and military clampdowns, pervasive government espionage, show trials, and numerous extralegal measures such as killings and forced disappearances. A feared figure in dissident circles, he was considered extraordinarily close to power. One of his most famous victims is believed to have been celebrated third-world politician Mehdi Ben Barka, who had "disappeared" in Paris in 1965. A French court convicted him of the murder.
In 1967, Oufkir was named interior minister, vastly increasing his power through direct control over most of the security establishment. After a failed republican military coup in 1971, he was named chief of staff and minister of defense, and set about purging the army and promoting his personal supporters. His domination of the Moroccan political scene was now near-complete, with the king ever more reliant on him to contain mounting discontent.
Oufkir was accused of plotting the 1972 Moroccan coup attempt against King Hassan II. Though official sources claimed that the general had committed suicide in response to the failure of the coup, his daughter, Malika Oufkir, writing in her book Stolen Lives, claims to have seen five bullet wounds in her father's body, all in positions not consistent with suicide. It is generally accepted outside of official circles that Oufkir was executed by forces loyal to the Moroccan monarchy.
On orders of the king, Oufkir's entire family was then sent to secret desert prison camps. They were not released until 1991, after American and European pressure on the government. After five years under close police supervision, they fled to France. This story is detailed by Oufkir's daughter Malika in the book Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail. His wife Fatima and his son Raouf also published their accounts of the period.
- Officier de la Légion d'honneur (1949)
- Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur (1947)
- Croix de guerre 1939-1945
- Croix de guerre des théâtres d'opérations extérieures
- Silver Star
He was awarded a total of seven citations, including three palmes (citations in Army Orders).
- Stephen Smith, Oufkir, un destin marocain, Hachette Littératures, 2002
- Steve Ewing, Thach weave: the life of Jimmie Thach, Naval Institute Press, 2004, p.286
- C. R. Pennell, Morocco since 1830: a history, p.267
- "General Mohamed Oufkir, who had been awarded a United States Army Silver Star while fighting with the Allies during World War II.", Steve Ewing, Thach weave: the life of Jimmie Thach, Naval Institute Press, 2004, p.286
- "Mohammed Oufkir, son of the man the French had attracted in the Tafilalt on the eve of the Protectorate, was awarded the Croix de guerre and the American Silver Star.", C. R. Pennell, Morocco since 1830: a history, p.267