Anwar Sadat: When the Transfer of Power Violates the Law

On this day in 1981, Islamic extremists assassinate Anwar Sadat, the president of Egypt, as he reviews troops on the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. Led by Khaled el Islambouli, a lieutenant in the Egyptian army connected to the terrorist group Takfir Wal-Hajira, the uniform-clad terrorists stopped and turned in front of the reviewing stand, hurling a rain of bullets and grenades into the seated crowd of Egyptian government officials.

In all, 11 were killed and 28 wounded in the fundamentalist plot. The assassination squad leader Islambouli was acting on a fatwā ordered by Omar Abdel-Rahman; Rahman, known as “The Blind Sheik,” who died recently in U.S. custody during his sentence related to the 1993 World Trade bombings. Islambouli himself was tried, found guilty, sentenced to death, and executed by firing squad in April 1982.

Sadat’s lengthy public service record for Egypt as both patriot and peacemaker, and his controversial Camp David negotiation with Israel in 1977-78, for which he and Menachem Begin won the Nobel Peace Prize, had made him a target of Islamic extremists across the Middle East. Sadat had also angered many by allowing the ailing Shah of Iran to die in Egypt rather than be returned to Iran to stand trial for his crimes against the country.

Vice-President Hosni Mubarak, also injured in the plot, assumed the presidency shortly after the incident. In the throes of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, Mubarak himself was detained and tried. After six years of legal jockeying, Mubarak was released in 2017.

And here, our re-appreciation of the rule of law and peaceful transfer of power endeth.

Author: Bill Urich

A tail-end baby-boomer, Bill Urich was born in Cleveland to a grade school teacher and her Navy vet husband, and reared in Greater Detroit. Working his way through school primarily at night, Mr. Urich holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism, Phi Beta Kappa, and a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University. In his legal career he has acted as an assistant state prosecutor, city attorney, special prosecutor, mediator, magistrate, private practitioner and mayor of Royal Oak, a large home-rule city in Michigan. Mr. Urich continues in private practice and municipal prosecution, is on faculty to DePaul University, pens regular contributions to political publications, and remains active in selected campaigns and causes related to labor, social and criminal justice. A father of three mostly-grown sons, he spends his precious free time on family, friends, the pursuit of happiness, beauty and truth, three rescue cats, and fronting the rock band Calcutta Rugs from behind the drum kit.

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