Anwar Sadat Killed

Published: 1981
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI
Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and US President Jimmy Carter confer in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington prior to the peace treaty signing on March 26, 1979.


Nick Charles: With those shots, life ended for Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the architect of the peace treaty between his country and Israel and the man considered to be America's closest ally in the Arab world. It was October 6th, a hot, sunny day. Sadat, dressed in the uniform of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, was reviewing a military parade in a Cairo suburb. The parade had been going on for about two hours when the attackers struck. They apparently timed their assault to coincide with an aerial show by a squadron of jetfighters performing maneuvers. As officials in the reviewing stand looked to the skies above, a military vehicle traveling by the reviewing stand suddenly stopped. Four men jumped out and headed towards Sadat, throwing hand grenades and opening up with machinegun fire. Security guards fired back, but it was too late: Sadat had already been hit five times. He was rushed to a military hospital, but even the best Egyptian surgeons were unable to save him. He died on the operating table two hours later, and it was several more hours before the Egyptian Government confirmed his death.

Most of the attackers were killed or captured. A former Egyptian Chief of Staff and head of the Independent Organization for the Liberalization of Egypt and an archenemy of Sadat's Middle East policies claimed responsibility for the attack.

In Beirut, Palestinian guerrillas celebrated Sadat's death by firing their weapons in the air; but other world leaders expressed shock, dismay and sadness. Former President Jimmy Carter called Sadat a bold and courageous man. When word of Sadat's death reached the White House, President Reagan expressed his feeling about the Egyptian leader …

President Ronald Reagan: "His courage and skill reaped a harvest of life for his nation and for the world. Anwar Sadat was admired and loved by the people of America. His death today, an act of infamy, cowardly infamy, fills us with horror.

"America has lost a close friend, the world has lost a great statesman, and mankind has lost a champion of peace."

Nick Charles: Sadat was something of a maverick in the sphere of world diplomacy. He stunned both Arabs and Israelis by his determined pursuit of a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. The groundwork for that treaty was laid in early September of 1978 at Camp David, Maryland.

Because of the violent way in which Sadat died, his funeral was almost one without mourners. World leaders who came to Egypt to pay last respects were under heavy security, and the police completely excluded the common people of Cairo from the funeral ceremony, a ceremony that began on the grounds of the Monte Hospital, where Sadat's family gathered for a brief prayer service, and ended at Egypt's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Following a 21-gun salute, Sadat was laid to rest.

With Sadat gone, there was speculation over whether U.S.-Egyptian relation would change. Sadat was a key in the Middle East negotiations. Early indications were that the new Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, would follow in the shadow of Sadat, but without his power and charisma.