CAIRO, Egypt -- Five Moslem zealots convicted in the assassination of Anwar Sadat were executed at dawn Thursday a few hours after their plea for mercy was rejected by President Hosni Mubarak.
Two of the men were shot to death as soldiers at a desert firing range east of Cairo and the other three were hanged as civilians from a prison gallows in central Cairo, Defense Ministry sources said.
'It is too late,' an army officer told defense attorneys filing another last minute clemency appeal for the five. 'They are already with God.'
The firing squad executions of Lt. Khaled Al-Islambouli, 24, and Sgt. Hussein Abbas, 28, were carried out at the Red Mountain firing range near the spot where they gunned down Sadat Oct. 6 during a military parade.
The three civilians were hanged at the aging prison in Bab El-Khalk, a working-class neighborhood near the center of Cairo. They were Abdel Hamid Abdel Salam, 26, Ata Tayel Rahil, 27 and Abdel Salam Farag, 27.
A defense attorney for the condemned men, Abdel-Halim Ramadan, said Mubarak rejected a plea to commute the death sentences late Wednesday only hours before they were put to death.
Of the five condenmed to death by the supreme military court March 6, four were convicted of murder and the fifth, Farag, of providing the assassination weapons. Seventeen other defendants were given prison terms.
During the stormy three-month assassination trial, Al-Islambouli emerged as a hero of Egypt's increasingly militant Moslem fundamentalists by boasting of leading the machine gun and grenade attack that killed Sadat and seven other people.
'I killed Sadat and I confess this and I am pround of it because the cause of religion was at stake,' Al-Islambouli declared at a rare public session of the trial.
Authorities clamped a news blackout on the executions. But it is customary for condemned Moslems to shout their Islamic creed before they die -- 'I testify there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is His prophet.'
An Egyptian firing-squad is usually made up of 10 riflemen, each firing one shot at the heart of the condemned man, who is tied to a pole and blindfolded. One of the 10 shots is always a blank.
The commanding officer would fire the 'coup de grace' from his pistol at the man's head, if he continued to show signs of life.
A man condemned to die by hanging is blindfolded, with hands tied behind his back, before he is ushered into the gallows chamber.
Condemned civilians are always granted a last wish -- usually a drink of water or a cigarette.