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Assassination of Anwar El Sadat

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Uploaded on Oct 14, 2008

Anwar El Sadat was born on 25 December 1918 and graduated from the Royal Military Academy in Cairo in 1938 and entered the army as a 2nd lieutenant. There, he met Gamal Abdel Nasser, and along with several other junior officers they formed the secret Free Officers Movement. Along with his fellow Free Officers, Sadat participated in a military coup which overthrew King Farouk I.

In 1964 he was chosen to be vice president by President Nasser. He served in that capacity until 1966, and again from 1969 to 1970. After Nasser's death in 1970, Sadat succeeded him as President, but it was widely considered that his presidency would be short-lived. On 6 October 1973, in conjunction Syria, Sadat launched the October War, known in Israel as the Yom Kippur War.

On 19 November 1977, Sadat became the first Arab leader to officially visit Israel and spoke before the Knesset in Jerusalem about his views on how to achieve a comprehensive peace to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty was signed by Anwar Sadat and Israelli Prime Minster Menachem Begin in Washington, DC, United States, on 26 March 1979, following the Camp David Accords (1978). Both Sadat and Begin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for creating the treaty. The agreement notably made Egypt the first Arab country to officially recognize Israel. The peace agreement between Egypt and Israel has remained in effect since the treaty was signed.

The treaty, which gained wide support among Egyptians was extremely unpopular in the Arab World and the wider Muslim World. By signing the accords, many non-Egyptian Arabs believed Sadat had put Egypt's interests ahead of Arab unity, and destroyed the vision of a united "Arab front" and elimination of the "Zionist Entity." Sadat's shift towards a strategic relationship with the U.S. was also seen as a betrayal by many.

Islamists were enraged by Sadat's Sinai treaty with Israel, particularly the radical Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Islamic Jihad was recruiting military officers and accumulating weapons, waiting for the right moment to launch "a complete overthrow of the existing order" in Egypt. Chief strategist of El-Jihad was Aboud el-Zumar, a colonel in the military intelligence whose "plan was to kill the main leaders of the country, capture the headquarters of the army and State Security, the telephone exchange building, and of course the radio and television building, where news of the Islamic revolution would then be broadcast, unleashing - he expected - a popular uprising against secular authority all over the country."

On 6 October 1981, Sadat was assassinated during the annual victory parade in Cairo. A fatwā approving the assassination had been obtained from Omar Abdel-Rahman, a cleric later convicted in the U.S. for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Sadat was protected by four layers of security and the army parade should have been safe due to ammunition-seizure rules. However, the officers in charge of that procedure were on hajj to Mecca. As air force Mirage jets flew overhead, distracting the crowd, a troop truck halted before the presidential reviewing stand, and a lieutenant strode forward. Sadat stood to receive his salute, whereupon the assassins rose from the truck, throwing grenades and firing assault rifle rounds. The lead assassin Khalid Islambouli shouted "Death to Pharaoh!" as he ran towards the stand and shot Sadat. After he fell to the floor people around Sadat threw chairs on his body to try to protect him from the bullets. 11 others were killed, and 28 were wounded, including James Tully, the Irish Minister for Defence, and four U.S. military liaison officers. Sadat was then rushed to a hospital, but was declared dead within hours.

This was the first time in Egyptian history that the head of state had been assassinated by an Egyptian citizen. Two of the attackers were killed and the others were arrested by military police on-site. Islambouli was later found guilty and was executed in April 1982. Sadat was succeeded by his vice president Hosni Mubarak, whose hand was injured during the attack. Over three hundred Islamic radicals were indicted in the trial of assassin Khalid Islambouli, including Ayman al-Zawahiri, Omar Abdel-Rahman and Abd al-Hamid Kishk. Zawahiri was released from prison in 1984, before travelling to Afghanistan and forging a close relationship with Osama Bin Laden.

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