Idi Amin Dada Oumee was born in the rural village of Koboko, Uganda, in 1923, a member of the Kakwa tribe. Raised in the isolated farming country of northwestern Uganda, Amin received a scant education which left him functionally illiterate.During the Second World War, at the age of 18, he enlisted in the British Army in the East African Rifles and fought in Burma against the Japanese. At the end of the war Amin joined the British 4th Ugandan Battalion. After distinguishing himself in the fight against Kenya's Mau Maus between 1953 and 1957, Amin was promoted to sergeant major and admitted to an officer training program. Despite his lack of formal education, he proved to be one of Uganda's most able military commanders.In 1964, two years after Uganda was granted independence from Great Britian, Amin was appointed deputy chief of the nation's army and air force with the rank of colonel. When Amin's friend, Dr. Milton Obote, seized power in Uganda in February 1966, he placed Amin as his right-hand man in full command of the armed forces, promoting him to major general in 1968. By 1970 a rift had developed between the two men, both wanting more power.On January 25, 1971, Amin overthrew Obote in a military coup, forcing him into exile. Amin then declared himself president and general, and a year later promoted himself to field marshal. Amin's victory over the authoritarian Obote regime was initially greeted with widespread support. However, that soon turned to hatred and fear when Amin began solidifying his absolute control over the nation. Within months after assuming office this large man (standing 6'4" and weighing 280 pounds) ordered the murder of over 5,000 members of the rival Acholi and Langi tribes which Obote and his supporters came from, beginning a reign of terror in Uganda from 1971 to 1979 in which at least 350,000 Ugandans were murdered by Amin and his secret police.In 1972 Amin, angered over foreign residents' control of Ugandan commerce, ordered the expulsion of 55,000 Asian workers and businessmen and seized their businesses and assets for himself and his supporters. Amin also stole $1.5 billion in US and British foreign aid money and squandered it on military weapons, tripling the size of Uganda's army. In 1975 he declared himself president for life and embarked on a campaign to humiliate British nationals, climaxing in the summer of that year when he forced four Englishmen to carry him around in an Organization of African Unity rally in a sedan chair.Amin received some international attention in June-July of 1976 when he allowed Palestinian and East German terrorists to use Entebbe airport as a base to hold a group of hostages from a hijacked Air France airliner from Israel. In a daring midnight raid on July 4, 1976, Israeli commandos freed the hostages. Although Amin claimed he was trying to negotiate the hostages' release, there was irrefutable evidence that he was indeed cooperating with and supporting the hijackers.Although he converted to Islam, Amin was oppressive in his new religion and was a noted polygamist with at least five wives and 23 children. By 1977 Uganda's economy was in shambles with a failing infrastructure, and Amin began losing support almost everywhere. In an attempt to rally the Ugandan people for his support, Amin in the spring of 1978 ordered his army to invade neighboring Tanzania, occupying 400 square miles of the country, supposedly the beginning of his plan to conquer all of Africa for himself. After a slow start, a force of 6,000 Ugandan rebels-in-exile, aided by a slowly mobilized 50,000-strong Tanzanian army, launched a counter-offensive against Amin's 70,000-strong army in December 1978. Amin's forces, demoralized and unwilling to fight any longer for their leader, rapidly collapsed.Although Col. Muammar Gadaffi of Libya sent troops and equipment to aid Amin's army, and the Palestine Liberation Organization sent some of its fighters, they were not sufficient to quell the popular uprising that ensued throughout Uganda and the approaching Tanzanian troops and Ugandan rebels. Amin's oppressive rule was brought to an end on April 11, 1979 when Tanzanian soldiers captured the Ugandan capital of Kampala, forcing Amin to flee into exile, taking most of his ill-gotten wealth and supporters with him. Amin first went to Libya and then to Saudi Arabia where he lived until his death in 2003.