3rd Egyptian President. He served as President of Egypt from 1970 until his assassination in 1981. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 with Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin, he was killed by disgruntled Egyptian Army soldiers for signing a peace treaty with Israel. Born Muhammad Anwar al Sadat, in Mit Abu al-Kum, Egypt, to a poor family of 13 brothers and sisters, his father was an Egyptian farmer and his mother, Sudanese. He learned about Egyptian nationalism from stories told to him by his grandmother, who often told him stories of the Egyptian resistance to the British occupation of Egypt. In 1938, he graduated from the Egyptian Royal Military Academy and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Signal Corps. Posted to Sudan (Egypt and Sudan were united into one British occupied country at the time), there he met Lieutenant Gamal Abdel Nasser. The two officers, along with several other disaffected officers, would form the Free Officers Movement, dedicated to freeing Egypt from British control and royal corruption. During World War II, Sadat attempted to contact the German Army for help in expelling the occupying British Army, for which he was imprisoned. Following the war, he was freed from prison and returned to military duties, where he quickly rejoined the Free Officers Movement. In 1952, they staged a military coup that overthrew King Farouk, and Sadat was given the task of making the radio announcement breaking the news of the revolution to the Egyptian people. After the successful revolution, Sadat held a series of government jobs in the new Egyptian national government, ranging from Minister of State to President of the National Assembly (Egypt's Parliament). In 1964, President Nasser selected Sadat to be his Vice President, in which he served from 1964 to 1966, and again from 1969 to 1970. In 1970, President Nasser died, and Sadat became President. Initially Nasser's supporters viewed Sadat as little more than a puppet, and believed that they could manipulate him, but six months after Nasser's death, he began the "Corrective Revolution" and purged Egypt of most of its pro-Nasser elements and leaders, securing his role as Egypt's President. In 1971 he made strenuous efforts to make peace with Israel, which were rebuffed. Sadat realized that Israel would not make peace due to the poor showing of the Egyptian Army in the 1967 Six Day War and due to the presence of Soviet equipment and advisors in Egypt. He expelled the Soviet military advisors from Egypt and then began rigorous training to get his Army into shape for another war with Israel. On October 6, 1973, he launched what became known as the Yom Kippur War, a surprise attack to recapture Israeli occupied Sinai. Initially doing well against the Israeli Defense Forces, the Egyptian Army advanced through the "impregnable" Bar-Lev Line within a few days of fighting. Israel countered by crossing the Suez Canal and encircled the Egyptian Third Army, forcing a ceasefire, but it was the Egyptian early victories in this war that restored Egyptian Army morale and made Anwar Sadat a hero in the eyes of the Arab people. Israel then recognized Egypt as a significant military power and began serious peace talks. On November 19, 1977, Sadat became the first Arab leader to visit Israel officially, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Begin and speaking before the Israeli Knesset (Parliament). Sadat and Begin signed the historic Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty in Washington, DC on March 26, 1979, and later that year, both men were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. While the peace treaty gained wide support among Egyptians, it was greatly unpopular in the Arab world and in the larger Muslim world. Many Arabs and Muslims believed that he had betrayed his religion and Nasser's cause of Pan-Arabism, by siding with the Zionists and the United States. In 1979, Egypt was expelled from the Arab League. When a group of military officers formed the Islamic Jihad group to perform a military coup against the Sadat government, the group was discovered in February 1981 and Sadat ordered the immediate arrest of all coup conspirators, but also included the arrest of intellectuals and political activists, including pro-Nasser supporters, university professors, journalists and activist university students. The general roundup arrested more than 1500 persons, but missed an Islamic Jihad cell led by Egyptian Army Lieutenant Khaled Islambouli. Due to this crackdown, Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel Rahman issued a fatwa (death decree) on Sadat (Rahman would later be imprisoned for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing). During the Annual Victory Parade in October 1981, in Cairo, Lieutenant Islambouli and several soldiers, all members of the secret Islamic Jihad, suddenly attacked Sadat and the government ministers watching the parade in the main reviewing stand. Sadat and eleven viewers were killed and 28 wounded, along with two of the Islamic Jihad. The other members of Islamic Jihad were captured by security forces, and later tried for treason and murder. Sadat was succeeded by vice president Hosni Mubarak, who was wounded in the attack that killed Sadat.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson