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Datum objave: 17.10.2018

Man in the News

Gen. Mo hammed Oufkir is perhaps best known in France for his role in the kidnapping of Mr. Ben Barka in Paris in October, 1965, an act that led to a scandal in France because of the col lusion of French authorities

Man in the News

About the Archive

This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them. 

PARIS, July 11—Gen. Mo hammed Oufkir, an ascetic, gaunt soldier who fought as French Army officer during World War II, is known in France and Morocco for his efficient and rapid methods of quelling disorder. As Morocco's Interior Minister for the last seven years, he has maintained tight control over the police. It is to him that King Hassan II has now turned to re store order after the abortive military coup.

General Oufkir was at the royal seaside palace at Skhi rat yesterday when mutinous officers leading army cadets attacked during a diplomatic reception.

The general came through that ordeal unhurt. It was he who gave the first announce ment last night that the King was safe and still held the reins of power.

In March, 1965, he ruth lessly suppressed major riots in Casablanca and many lives were lost. In July, 1963, the general discovered a leftwing plot against the King, identifying Mehdi Ben Barka, the Moroccan Opposi tion leader, as the chief in stigator. Mr. Ben Barka, who was traveling abroad, was sentenced to death in absentia.

The 51yearold general is perhaps best known in France for his role in the kidnapping of Mr. Ben Barka in Paris in October, 1965, an act that led to a scandal in France because of the col lusion of French authorities.

A Paris judge found that the general had participated directly in the kidnapping; France then recalled her am bassador from Rabat. But re lations between the two countries are now much warmer.

French newspapers and magazines went further by portraying General Oufkir as the murderer of Mr. Ben Barka.

As Morocco's leading re publican, Mr. Ben Barka posed a constant threat to the 1,100yearold monarchy. Fie was never seen again aft er the kidnapping; his body, has not been found.

Pessimism on Reopening

General Oufkir formally denied any complicity “as a French Army officer” but he refused to answer questions before the Paris tribunal.

General Oufkir was born in 1920 at Ain Cheikh, a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains.

The Berbers are the in digenous, Hamitic speaking peoples of North Africa. They live today mainly in the up land regions, while the Ara bicspeaking majority inhabit the coastal towns and cities. The Berbers make up about 35 per cent of the Moroccan population. The general was born to a relatively well to — do — family. He was an excellent student and graduated at the age of 17 from the Dar al Beida mili tary academy In Meknes and then served for seven years in the French Army. He saw action during the Allied cam paign in Italy and later in Indochina.

Before Morocco gained in dependence from France in 1956 he served as liaison of ficer between the then exiled King, Mohammed V, King Hassan's father, who died in 1961, and the French nego tiators on independence.

After independence, he served as aide de camp to King Mohammed, and when Hassan II ascended the throne In 1961 at the age of 31, General Oufkir was named director of the State Security Department.

It was in this capacity that he uncovered the July, 1963, “plot” against the King. In 1964 he became Minister of the Interior, with powers sec ond only to the King's.


Press Conference Of General Oufkir Moroccan Minister Of The Interior, On Ben Barka Case

Mehdi Ben Barka

Mehdi Ben Barka (Arabic: المهدي بن بركة‎; 1920 – disappeared 29 October 1965) was a Moroccan politician, head of the left-wing National Union of Popular Forces (UNPF) and secretary of the Tricontinental Conference. An opponent of King Hassan II, he "disappeared" in Paris in 1965. Many theories attempting to explain what happened to him were put forward over the years; but it was not until 2018 that details of his disappearance were established by Israeli journalist and author Ronen Bergman in his book Rise And Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations. Based on research and interviews with Israeli intelligence operatives involved in planning the kidnapping of Barka, Bergman concluded that he was murdered by Moroccan agents and French police, who ended up disposing of his body

On 29 October 1965, Mehdi Ben Barka was abducted ("disappeared") in Paris by French policemen and never seen again. On 29 December 1975, Time magazine published an article titled "The Murder of Mehdi Ben Barka", stating that three Moroccan agents were responsible for the death of Ben Barka, one of them former Interior Minister Mohamed Oufkir. Speculation persists as to CIA involvement. French intelligence agents and the Israeli Mossad were also involved, according to the article. According to Tad Szulc, Israeli involvement was in the wake of the successful Moroccan-Israeli collaboration in the 1961–64 Operation Yachin; he claims that Meir Amit located Ben Barka, whereupon Mossad agents persuaded him to come to Paris where he was to be arrested by the French police.

January 10, 1966 : « I saw Ben Barka get killed », L’Express’ controversial cover

On January the 10th, 1966, L’Express published on its cover the testimony of a French man who witnessed the kidnapping, a few weeks earlier, of Mehdi Ben Barka. Seven days later, George Figon was found dead in his apartment. On January the 20th, an international arrest warrant was issued against General Oufkir and General Dlimi. The French weekly news magazine’s story that caused a scandal. History.

On October 2017, the death of Mehdi Ben Barka, a Moroccan politician and leading founder of the National Union of Popular Forces (UNFP), was commemorated in France. 52 years after his controversial abduction, the investigation initiated to determine the circumstances of Ben Barka’s disappearance is still open. Kidnapped in Paris on October the 29th, 1965, the Ben Barka affair was investigated by the French magazine which published a story with the testimony of George Figon.

Figon, in his version of the story, claimed that he participated to the kidnapping of Ben Barka, creating a wave of criticism among the French public opinion for several weeks. With the photo of the head of the left-wing party in Morocco on its cover, accompanied with a red and attractive headline, the story conducted by Jacques Derogy and Jean-Francois Kahn has pushed Charles de Gaulle, recently re-elected president of France, to consider the affair «hateful”, calling during a press conference in February 1966 to question the progress of the investigation.

Two investigations

On the 26th of October 1965, Mehdi Ben Barka was in Geneva. He contacted Philippe Bernier, a journalist who was working on a documentary about decolonization. Their appointment was scheduled for Friday, 29th of October, at 12:15 at Brasserie Lipp, located at Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris. On the day of his abduction, Ben Barka, who was accompanied by Thami Azemourri, a young Moroccan historian, was arrested by two police officers who were riding a Peugeot 403 car, and was never seen again.

On the 2nd of November, an investigation was opened by Judge Louis Zollinger and entrusted to the Brigade criminelle, the oldest and perhaps most famous, in charge of homicides, kidnapping, bomb attacks and investigations involving personalities, which was headed by Commissioner Bouvier. Meanwhile, Jacques Derogy and Jean-Francois Kahn were focused on their own investigation. That day, they met Philippe Bernier with Ben Barka’s brother. «They informed us that two of Ben Barka’s sworn enemies were miraculously present in Paris : Mohamed Oufkir, the Moroccan Interior Minister and Ahmed Dlimi, head of the Moroccan security services. Bernier was particularly worried about the role George Figon played in the affair as he disappeared since the meeting in the Brasserie Lipp», wrote Jacques Derogy in an article published in 1995.

The three journalists’ meeting had led them to another unrevealed part of the story : a tête-à-tête with Pierre Lemarchaud, George Figon’s lawyer. An article entitled «The strange coincidences in the Ben Barka’s affair» was published following this meeting without attracting too much attention. The story focused on the searches carried out in the villa and in the house where Ben Barka was held.

The first article

Around mid-December, Georges Figon, having been the subject of an arrest warrant, contacted the two journalists. His first revelations were featured in a second article published on December the 20th, «without affecting the reelection of General de Gaulle». This article reports Figon’s version of the story regarding the arrival of Dlimi and General Oufkir, then Minister of Interior in the villa where Ben Barka was kidnapped. «In the evening, he (Mehdi Ben Barka) went to bed and we seized the opportunity to call Dlimi, head of the security services, and Oufkir, the Interior Minister. We briefly spoke as everyone of us knew perfectly what it was. Moroccans are skeptical; we’ve already done it before to get money. Ironically, Dlimi asked 'what do you mean by saying once again ?', then Dubail took the phone :

We want to say that the parcel is here!

- What, the parcel?

- Yes, the package.

- Packed up ?

- Yes, packed up.

- That's good, we're coming».

The testimony of George Figon, published by L’Express on January the 10, 1966

. It was on January the 10th that a «fifteen pages documentary», containing George Figon’s testimony was published on L’Express. «Our scoop is a big twisted story», said Jacques Derogy. New revelations were added to the investigation led by Judge Louis Zollinger, in addition to a denial issued by George Figon in which he denies his previous statement. On the 17th of January, 1966, Figon was shot dead in his Paris apartment on Rue des Renaudes. Media at the time pointed out at the weird way in which the man committed suicide including international magazines such as the Times and the Daily Mail.

On the same day, several prestigious personalities from political, cultural and scientific circles called for «shedding light on Mehdi Ben Barka’s disappearance». They demanded that «the names of the ones responsible for what happened should be revealed».

«That's when Dlimi and Achachi got to the first floor. As soon as he saw Dlimi, Ben Barka was terrified, and stopped debating. We started by tying him using ropes that Palisse purchased. It is Dubail who tied down his feet. (...) At that moment, on the ground floor, comes Oufkir, wearing a big black felt hat.»

The testimony of George Figon, published by L'Express on January 10, 1966.

De Gaulle finally recognizes that the French were involved

On January the 22nd, Judge Zollinger issued three international arrest warrants against General Oufkir, Commander Dlimi and Larbi Chtouki who also took part in the kidnapping of Ben Barka. Two days later, L’Express published an 18 pages article devoted to the affair and divided it into five weekly series. On the 21st of February, General de Gaulle finally commented on the Ben Barka affair in a press conference. It is only on September the 5th that the trial of the accuseds was opened in Paris to end on June 5th, 1967.

Antoine Lopez, Moroccan intelligence informant (SDCE), and Louis Souchon, one of the police officers who arrested Ben Barka, were sentenced to imprisonment. Others were acquitted while General Mohammed Oufkir, Ahmed Dlimi and five other French nationals on the run, were sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment.

Several versions of the story made it to the surface later on, suggesting that the Israeli Mossad was involved in getting rid of Ben Barka’s body. No one knows till now the details of what exactly happened to Hassan II’s biggest opponent.

Ben Barka killed with French help

Mohamed Oufkir

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


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.

He studied at the berber College of Azrou near Meknes. In 1939, he entered the Military Academy of Dar El Beida (Casablanca), and in 1941, he enlisted as a reserve lieutenant in the French army.

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.[1][2][3]

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.

The Ben Barka affair: 51 years after the events, the truth is still feared

At the end of the 1960s, the wrongly named Cold war was in full swing. In the background, the national liberation wars in Vietnam and Mozambique, the anti-apartheid resistance in South Africa, the military coups in Brazil and later in Indonesia… To reverse the tide that was favouring the neocolonial order, three great leaders, Che Guevara, Mehdi Ben Barka and Amílcar Cabral imagined a convergence of struggles at a tricontinental scale. Movements, political parties and even guerrillas from Latin America, Africa and Asia, should exchange their experiences and strategies in resisting against imperialism. These three revolutionaries, thinkers and men of action, paid with their lives for their struggles side-by-side with the « wretched of the Earth ». Half a century after their disappearance, their ideas for a less unequal world remain more relevant than ever. To better understand his father’s struggles, we have interviewed Bachir Ben Barka, who works to uncover all the responsibilities in the « Ben Barka affair ». Interview conducted by Alex Anfruns & Philippe Stroot.

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