Earlier this week, Ali spoke to MEE at length in a secret location in Spain and offered more details about his projects, including renovations that gave him an inside look into Sisi’s family life.
The first time Ali said he heard about Sisi was when his company was chosen by the Armed Forces Engineering Authority to build a new villa for Sisi’s family in Cairo’s historic Helmeya.
Sisi had been appointed defence minister by Morsi in August 2012, replacing Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawy.
Tantawy, according to Ali, lived in the vicinity of the house where the late Egyptian General Abdelhakim Amer, who led Egypt’s army during the 1967 Middle East war, once lived.
Tantawy had preserved Amer’s house. But when Sisi became defence minister, his wife, Intissar, refused to live in Amer’s house, so Sisi ordered it to be demolished and a new house built in its place, Ali said.
Mahmoud el-Sisi’s name first came to light last spring with reports of his leading role in coordinating his father’s bid to amend the constitution in order to extend his time in power.
“The most powerful agencies in the country are controlled by his sons. So who’s going to monitor who?” Ali asked.
Discussing Mahmoud’s growing influence in Egypt, Mohamed Ali told MEE that he has essentially become the head of the intelligence apparatus even though he is less senior in military rank than many officers.
President Sisi appointed his former office manager Abbas Kamel as head of the GID in June 2018, replacing Khaled Fawzy.
Kamel’s main qualification, according to Ali, was his close relationship with Sisi. With a close ally as head of the agency, Mahmoud would naturally be the de facto head, said Ali.
“So if today I am the president’s office manager, who will I be loyal to? To the president. And how about when his son is hired to work with me? Will I be able to upset his son? His father will fire me like he fired others,” Ali said.