Egyptian war hero and inventor of the Nubian code Ahmed Edris dies at 84

Ahmed Edris, an Egyptian war hero revered for creating a Nubia-based code used during the wars between Egypt and Israel, has died aged 84. Edris commanded 344 coders who sent encrypted messages in the Nubian language, which has no written alphabet.

Ahmed Edris devised a code based on the Nubian language, an oral code that escaped the reach of Israeli intelligence [Facebook]

Many may remember the 2002 Hollywood movie “Wind talker“, a film that traces the history of the Amerindians code speakers and their use of a Navajo language to communicate in service during World War II.

Few, however, are familiar with Ahmed Edris, who used the same tactics for the Egyptian military in its 1970 war with Israel. Using the Nubian language, Edris and his battalion managed to bypass and evade Israeli intelligence and played a crucial role in Egypt’s war effort.

Sadly, with Edris passing away at his home in Alexandria on Tuesday, his masterful feats remain largely relegated to military folklore.

Prior to Ahmed Edris’ innovation, the Egyptian military had always faced intelligence-sharing issues.

“Three months after Sadat came to power, every time a coded message was sent by our [the Egyptian] the army, the Israeli forces deciphered it “, Edris noted during a short documentary on his achievements.

“Sadat asked the army commanders to find a way to solve the problem. When I heard about this, I smiled and said it was easy. Let’s do it in the Nubian language. , which is an oral language without a written alphabet “.

“Using the Nubian language, Edris and his battalion were able to bypass and avoid Israeli intelligence, and played a critical role in Egypt’s war effort.”

“The Chief of Staff then communicated my idea to Sadat, who deemed the material highly confidential. They brought me to him. [Sadat] handcuffs, which at first made me panic, ”Edris recalls with a smile.

“I thought they suspected I was a spy or something… and I didn’t know where they were taking me,” he added.

“They made me wait 90 minutes at Sadat’s office until he arrived. He tapped me on the shoulder and asked me about the Nubian language… and I explained my idea to him, ”Edris recalls.

Sadat was convinced by Edris’ suggestion and the operation then gave the green light, on condition that the mission be kept top secret.

“Only five high ranking officers knew about it,” said Edris.

“Stations were established all over Sinai with a Nubian soldier present in each one… and we sent information on the number of vehicles in the area”, “We continued to operate… [other] missions … until the [6 of October] war broke out, ”he explained.

Eventually, another 344 soldiers, led by Edris of Nubian descent, were deployed to the Sinai Peninsula – trained as code speakers during the War of attrition and then to October 6 War.

Born in a Nubian village in southern Egypt, Edris’ esteemed military career began in early 1954 after enlisting in the military, to participate in all the wars Egypt has been engaged in since. during. He retired as a non-commissioned officer after serving for 40 years.

“I belong to the army. I have lived inside the military more than anywhere else, ”said Eldris proudly.

The files relating to speakers of the Nubian code have only recently been declassified. It was not until October 2017 that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi honored Edris, awarding him the Military Star Medal; and it got the media attention it deserved.


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