Sadat Assassination

At first, Cairo took great pains to say there was nothing wrong.

At first, Cairo took great pains to say there was nothing wrong.
At first, Cairo took great pains to say there was nothing wrong.
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This day in 1981, the news was filled with reports that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat had been the victim of an assassination. During a military review, Sadat, along with several dignitaries and cabinet members, including his vice-President Hosni Mubarak were attacked by a group of Egyptian soldiers; driving up to the reviewing stand, as Sadat and the others were looking up to the sky at an Air display and opened fire.

In addition to Sadat, eleven others were killed, including the Cuban ambassador, an Omani general, a Coptic Orthodox bishop and Samir Helmy, the head of Egypt’s Central Auditing Agency (CAA). Twenty-eight were wounded, including Vice President Hosni Mubarak, Irish Defence Minister James Tully, and four US military liaison officers.

News was sketchy and would remain that way for hours – with official government reports from Cairo saying he had been taken to the hospital for “superficial wounds” and was in surgery. But as the hours went by (the initial reports came at 4 in the morning Pacific time), speculation and leaks from inside sources suggested otherwise and that he had, in fact died from his wounds.

It wasn’t until hours later that the official news finally came down that all the rumors were true; Anwar Sadat had died from his wounds, along with many others at the reviewing stand in Nassar City.

The assassination squad was led by Lieutenant Khalid Islambouli after a fatwā approving the assassination had been obtained from Omar Abdel-Rahman. Islambouli was tried, found guilty, sentenced to death, and executed by firing squad in April 1982.

Here is a capsule view of the events of that morning, as they were reported by CBS Radio on October 6, 1981. Reports and bulletins throughout the day as the events turned from speculative to tragic, and reactions from world leaders.

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