In a revealing interview, Egypt’s chief executioner spoke of his childhood past-time that led to his career taking the lives of those sentenced to death in the Muslim-majority country. Hajj Abd Al-Nabi, who serves as the chief warrant officer in the Egyptian prison system, claims that he has executed approximately 800 persons during his days as chief executioner. Speaking on television, Al-Nabi said “I have placed [the noose] around some 800 heads – tough people, big people, young people … All the despicable crimes—killing, adultery, premeditated murder, and so on.”
The interview was translated and then released by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). The transcript records that Al-Nabi proudly recalls his role as a death dealer. “I carry out all the death sentences.” He added, “In all honesty, I love my work,” he tells an interviewer. “I just love it! I never say, ‘No’ when they need me at work. This is my work and my livelihood.”
During the interview, Al-Nabi said that as a child he was accustomed to strangling cats and dogs. “When I was young, about 13 or 14 years old, … my hobby was to watch a cat, to place a rope around its neck, place a rope around its neck, strangle it, and throw it into the water,” Al-Nabi said. “I would get a hold of an animal—even dogs. I would strangle these animals and throw them into the water, even dogs.”
“Strangulation was my hobby,” said Al-Nabi smiling.
His parents told him he would go to “hell” for killing animals, but he persevered in his hobby. “It’s a gift,” he explained. “I was a little Satan.” Once he was hired as Egypt’s chief executioner, Al-Nabi told himself “Congratulations, now grow a mustache.”
Al-Nabi takes his job seriously. “The truth is that my heart is dead, because executing comes from the heart, not the moustache,” he explained. “Only if you have a heart of stone can you be content in this line of work.”
“When it comes to carrying out my job, I am tough,” Al-Nubi said. “The murderer has done an abominable thing, and I cannot be soft with him. If I were soft towards this criminal, I wouldn’t be able to execute him.”
Even so, Al-Nabi says he really likes people despite his profession. “I love people, and people love me, but when I am doing my job, I am carrying out the law of Allah,” he said. “When I’m at home, with my kids, I am as calm as can be.”