Ibrahim Ismail
إبراهيم إسماعيل
5th Chief of Defence Forces
In office
1 July 1970 – 30 November 1977
MonarchsAbdul Halim
Yahya Petra
Prime MinisterAbdul Razak Hussein
Hussein Onn
Minister of DefenceAbdul Razak Hussein
Hamzah Abu Samah
Mustapha Harun
Hussein Onn
Preceded byAbdul Hamid Bidin
Succeeded byMohd Sany Abdul Ghaffar
Personal details
Ibrahim bin Ismail

(1922-10-19)19 October 1922
Johor Bahru, Johor, British Malaya (now Malaysia)
Died23 December 2010(2010-12-23) (aged 88)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Resting placeMakam Pahlawan, Masjid Negara, Kuala Lumpur
Zakiah Ahmad
(m. 1949)
Alma mater
OccupationSenior military officer, secret agent, businessman
Civilian awards
Military service
Years of service1941–1977
Rank General
  • 6th Bn, Royal Malay Regiment
  • 5th Infantry Brigade
  • 1st Infantry Division
Military awards

General (Rtd) Tun Ibrahim bin Ismail[1] (Jawi: إبراهيم بن إسماعيل; 19 October 1922 – 23 December 2010) was a Malaysian soldier who served in the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II, subsequently rising to the post of Chief of the Malaysian Defence Forces from 1970 until 1977.[2] He was the first Chief of the Defence Forces to be granted the honorific title “Tun”.[3]


Ibrahim was born in Johor Bahru, at the southern tip of the Malayan Peninsula. He graduated from the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun and was commissioned into the Indian Army, following the Japanese invasion of Malaya.

He was recruited into "Force 136", the cover name for the SOE in the Far East. In October 1944 he and two colleagues were parachuted onto the western coast of Terengganu as part of "Operation Oatmeal". Their location was betrayed and they were soon captured by the Japanese – along with their codebook. After a month's interrogation, they agreed to turn double agent, but managed to inform SOE of their situation, effectively becoming triple agents.[2]

Their disinformation led the Japanese to believe the land assault on Malaya – Operation Zipper – would occur on the Kra Isthmus, 650 miles (1,050 km) to the north of its actual location. Japan surrendered before the landings, and Ibrahim informed his captors that his religion would not permit him to commit hara-kiri with them.[2] For his actions Captain Ibrahim was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in November 1946.[4]

Post-war, Ibrahim joined the Sultan of Johore's Royal Johor Military Force (JMF), transferring to the Malay Regiment in 1951. He commanded the 6th Battalion, Royal Malay Regiment from 1958, and was promoted to Brigadier in 1962. He served as Director of Administration in the Federation Army, and then commanded the 5th Infantry Brigade, and was GOC of the 1st Infantry Division from 1966.[2] He was involved in the suppression of the May 1969 riots[5] and was a member of the ruling National Operations Council between 1969 and 1971. With the rank of General he then served as Chief of the Defence Forces until his retirement in 1977. In 1984 he published his wartime memoirs Have You Met Mariam?[citation needed]

In 2000 Ibrahim was appointed a Grand Commander of the Order of Loyalty to the Crown of Malaysia, and received the honorific title "Tun".[2]

Tun Ibrahim died at Tuanku Mizan Armed Forces Hospital, Kuala Lumpur on 23 December 2010. His body was laid to rest at Makam Pahlawan near Masjid Negara, Kuala Lumpur. He was the first military person laid to rest there.


Honours of Malaysia

Foreign Honours


  1. ^ Ibrahim bin Ismail, Tun, 1922–2010 (2008). Ibrahim pahlawan Melayu (in Malay) (1st ed.). Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. ISBN 978-983-62-9764-8. OCLC 265580520.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e "Tun Ibrahim Ismail". The Daily Telegraph. London. 26 January 2011. ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 49632006. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  3. ^ "General Tun Ibrahim bin Ismail". The Times. London. 4 March 2011. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  4. ^ "No. 37780". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 November 1946. p. 5465.
  5. ^ "Malaysia's former military chief and WWII spy dies". asiaone.com. 23 December 2010. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  6. ^ "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1964" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1970" (PDF).
  8. ^ "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 2000" (PDF).
  9. ^ "The Tengku Makhota heads Sultan's list of honours". The Straits Times. 29 October 1964. p. 6.
  10. ^ Ministers head Sultan's awards list. New Straits Times. 16 November 1972.
  11. ^ Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar (English College) : Sejarah dan Biografi 100 Tokoh Melakar Kegemilangan. Kamdi Kamil (1st ed.). Johor Bahru: Percetakan Bumi Restu Sdn Bhd. 2014. p. 94. ISBN 978-983-42249-8-1. OCLC 892514524.((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  12. ^ "Service chief and Speaker made datos". The Straits Times. 1 September 1965. p. 18.