Sadat assassins: just a few soldiers, or part of larger group?
The assassination of President Anwar Sadat was carried out by a group of soldiers unaffiliated with any foreign country and led by a Muslim fanatic. This statement, made Oct. 7 by Egyptian Defense Minister Muhammad Abdul Halim Abu Ghazzala, was the first official word as to who was responsible for Mr. Sadat's death.
The defense minister said the group consisted of four soldiers, whom he declined to identify. But United Press International said sources close to the government have identified the ringleader as Maj. Ahmad HAssan Istanbuly, whose brother was involved in an attack by Muslim fanatics on the Technical Military Academy in Heliopolis in April 1974.
Meanwhile, in Washington, Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. said the Sadat assassinationwas not a broad attempt to take over the government, and he sharply warned outside powers against interfering there. His warning was seen as aimed at Libya and its patron, the Soviet Union.
Earlier reports from US officials had said the attack was carried out by two officers and four enlisted men. There had been speculation about involvement by Libya, whose lelader, Muammar Qaddafi, had long called for Sadat's overthrow.
Also,the Associated Press reported from Beirut that three Egyptian opposition groups had claimed responsibility: the "Front for the Liberation of Arab Egypt," the "Independent Organization for the Liberation of Egypt," and the "Organization of the Egyptian Nasserite Youth Union."
The name of Maj. Gen. Saad Eddin Shazli, a former Egyptian chief of staff who became an outspoken critic of Sadat, came up in early reports concerning these groups, although there was disagreement as to which he led.
It has also been reported that one of the attackers was linked to the extremist Al Takfir Wal Hijra sect.