Gamal Abul Nasser was born on January 15, 1918 in Cairo. After graduating from high school, he decided to apply to the Military Academy, but his lack of influential connections on the one hand and his police record of anti-British protests in 1935 on the other resulted in the dismissal of his application. Shortly after he was denied entry, the intent shifted towards increasing the number of young Egyptian Army offices, regardless of their social or economic class. The Military Academy accepted a new batch of applicants in 1937, including Gamal Abdul Nasser who had submitted a second application. Upon graduation, he joined the infantry before he was posted to Sudan and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 1940, then to that of Captain in 1942.
Not only did the year 1945 see the end of the Second World War but also the emergence of the Movement of Free Officers. At the time, Abdul Nasser’s focus was to bring about an entity encompassing all those officers who had enough courage to bring in change. Following the 1947 resolution on the partition of Palestine, this small group of volunteer fighters decided that it was high time they defended the rights of Arabs against this blatant violation of human dignity and international justice. Unfazed by the quantitative superiority of the Israeli forces, they extended help to the Palestinian resistance, until the 1948 Arab-Israeli War ended with the 1949 armistice sponsored by the UN.
After his return from Palestine, Abdul Nasser was appointed instructor at the Army Staff College. The Free Officers resumed their activism and formed an executive committee headed by Abdul Nasser who was elevated to the rank of Colonel in 1951. They participated secretly in the guerilla attacks launched against the British in the Suez Canal zone and published and distributed leaflets urging the reorganization of the army, armament and training and calling on the rulers to stop squandering the resources of the nation and to raise the standard of living of the poor, all of which happened before the eruption of the dreadful events in 1952.
Clashes between the British forces and the policemen in the city of Ismailia resulted in the shooting dead of 40 Egyptian policemen and sparked a series of wide-scale riots that swept across Cairo the next day leaving 76 people dead. In response, the Movement of the Free Officers was actively involved in abolishing the constitutional monarchy and establishing a democratic republic. To this end, Free Officers planned to overthrow the monarchy and chose Muhammad Naguib to be the nominal leader of the July Revolution in 1952. The Free Officers seized all government premises, radio stations and police stations and took control of the Army Command headquarters in Cairo. After a series of internal and external failures and having flipped back and forth between the Axis powers and the Allies during the Second World War, King Farouq was coerced to step down and leave the country. The monarchy was thus abolished and Egypt was declared an independent republic headed by Muhammad Naguib, who also served as Prime Minister. Gamal Abdul Nasser was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior in the new government but surrendered the latter post to Zakariya Muhieddine.
Amid deepening disputes with the members of the Revolutionary Command Council, Muhammad Naguib resigned from his post in February 1954. Gamal Abdul Nasser took over Naguib’s post and became both Head of the Council and Prime Minister before the 1954 Muslim Brotherhood-led attempt on his life while he was delivering a speech at El-Manshiya Square in Alexandria. Investigations into the assassination attempt revealed that Muhammad Naguib was in touch with the Muslim Brotherhood and was planning to support them should they succeed in overthrowing the regime. Consequently, the Revolutionary Command Council dismissed Naguib from all his posts and the presidential seat fell vacant until a popular referendum held according to the new Constitution on June 24, 1956 resulted in the election of Gamal Abdul Nasser as President of the Republic.
On September 28, 1970, the 52-year old Gamal Abdul Nasser suffered a heart attack upon his return from the Cairo Summit to end the Black September conflict between the Jordanian authorities and the Palestinian organizations. After eighteen years in power, Abdul Nasser, who exemplified anti-imperialist Arab unity, bid farewell to four million Egyptians on the first of October 1970, and handed power to his deputy Mohammad Anwar Sadat.