Assassination of Sadat

top photo Sadat arrives with bodyguards. middle photo Sadat waves to crowd. Bottom Jihan Sadat arrives followed by lady in waiting

top photo Sadat arrives with bodyguards. middle photo Sadat waves to crowd. Bottom Jihan Sadat arrives followed by lady in waiting

This post will be on the assassination of Sadat which I witnessed at close range in 1981.In the photos above I am either circled or have an ink arrow pointing to me ( not the big white arrows). One points out the conspirator who initially tossed the grenade and came around the side. One of those arrows is pointing at the Sadat press secretary who was killed. I will continue this as I am able to do so. I want to add a couple of more pictures to this posting before I move on. These photos were taken from an Egyptian magazine. In the bottom pic you see the leader Lt.Stambouli approaching the reviewing stand shooting at Sadat. He had initially leaped from the passenger side of an Egyptian prime mover of a Russian D-130 artillery piece. The troops in the back of the truck were part of the assassination team. Only the driver was not part of the plot. Stambouli had his rifle pointed at his head. One of the conspirators tossed a concussion grenade and began firing his ak-47 in the direction of the stands. The middle pic shows the aftermath of the shooting when people began swarming all over the VIP section of the reviewing stand. They were searching for Sadat who was buried under a bunch of wood folding chairs. The top pic shows the ambulance which arrived for Sadat. As he was lifted out of the stands he waved weakly to the crowd. He was hit numerous times. He died shortly after arriving at the hospital.
I had arrived in Egypt only about two months prior to the October Armed Forces parade to commemorate the “victory” over the Israelis in 1973. Like most Americans I was under the impression that Sadat was venerated by his people. But like all people, the Egyptians are more interested in what you did for me today than what happened years ago. I learned in my wandering around the bazaars and talking to the merchants that Sadat had three problems.
1. He was too close to the U.S.
2. His brother in law and some of his family were considered to be corrupt. They were very corrupt in fact. The Osman family made millions off numerous government contracts.
3. Jihan. His wife. She is a very sophisticated and forward looking lady…much too much for the conservative Egyptian society. Her feminist speeches may have resonated well here but not in Egypt.
The parade in addition to being a celebration of the 73 war
was also an attempt by Sadat to show off the new American weapons arriving in country. The m-60A3 tanks, m-113’s in various configurations were to be the highlight of the parade. It was Sadat’s attempt to show his swing to the West was the right decision. Many of his officers , trained in the USSR, were not so sure.
Another aspect of the events to keep in mind was that Sadat had used the Muslim Brotherhood against the left-wing cabal in the Free officers organization that had ousted King Farouk. Actually Sadat was a compromise choice of the free officers mostly because both Left and Right thought they could manipulate him. They were wrong. He used various groups against one another and got rid of the Russians when he thought they were inhibiting his freedom of action.
Its ironic that the Islamist groups, many of whom he had released from prison ( where they had been put by president Nasser) became his bitterest enemies…. A lesson here for today perhaps???
Sadat arrived at the parade with numerous bodyguards, all of whom seemed to have disappeared when the shooting began. This, of course engendered conspiracy rumors, none true, just another case of incompetence so often seen in the Egyptian security services.
The parade it self was a great spectacle. I remember writing at the time that watching troops come by on foot,jogging, on camels, on elephants, on horses, riding modern equipment, Russian, Chinese, U.S. etc. I could image what Xerxes or Darius would view when the Persian army passed in review. It was impressive.

About Tex

Retired artillery colonel, many years in a number of positions in the Arab world. Graduate of the US Military Academy and the American University of Beirut. MA in Arab studies from the American University in Beirut along with 18 years as Middle East Seminar Director at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School, Served in Vietnam with 1st Inf Division, Assignments in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, plus service with Trucial Oman Scouts in the Persian Gulf. Traveled to every Arab country on the map including Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
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