Background Report Former Egyptian General Believed to Have Masterminded the Assassination of Preside
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Background Report Former Egyptian General Believed to Have Masterminded the Assassination of Preside

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Gen. Saadeddin Mohamed Shazly, who was Chief of Staff of the Egyptian army during the Yom Kippur War, and had been an opponent of President Anwar Sadat, is reportedly the man who masterminded the assassination of the Egyptian President.

Shazly was dismissed from his army post by Sadat in December, 1973 but was later appointed Ambassador to London and to Lisbon. He formally broke with Sadat after the Egyptian President’s historic trip to Jerusalem in November, 1977.

Shazly, who successfully led the Egyptian army across the Suez Canal in the Yom Kippur War, was dismissed by Sadat who accused him of having lost his nerve, failing to carry out the Egyptian leader’s orders to wipe out a pocket of Israeli infiltration on the west bank of the canal on the 10th day of the war. Shazly, for his part, claimed that it was Sadat who refused to authorize an attack on the Israeli bridgehead west of the canal, thus squandering Egypt’s initial military success.


Whatever the truth, Sadat was reportedly jealous of Shazly’s popularity among the Egyptian army’s elite commando units whom he had trained during the preceding War of Attrition and had feared that Shazly could lead a “young officers” coup against him in the confused situation following the Yom Kippur War.

Sadat therefore removed him from Egypt by posting him overseas. He was sent first as Ambassador to London, where he had been a military attache in the early 1960s. But Shazly used his London position to foment criticism of Sadat after the Sinai disengagement treaties with Israel. As a result, Sadat sent him to Lisbon, considered a diplomatic backwater.

Shazly had made his military reputation in Egypt during the Six-Day War in 1967 when he was in charge of a commando unit. Unlike most Egyptian officers in Sinai during that war, he evaded capture and, disguised as a Bedouin, succeeded in getting back to Egypt with a number of his men.

For two years after the Six-Day War, he commanded Egypt’s special forces and was entrusted by President Gamal Abdel Nasser with launching a war of attrition against Israel on the Suez Canal. After another two years as commander of the Red Sea district, Sadat appointed him Chief of Staff.

Born in 1922, he studied at Cairo University and in the Soviet Union. He joined the army in 1943 and fought against Israel in its War of Independence and during the 1956 Suez campaign. During his period in London as military attache from 1961 to 1963 Shazly was the center of a furor when it was learned he had had contacts with a group of British Nazis. But this did not prevent him from being accepted in London as Ambassador a decade later. Last night, hours after Sadat was assassinated, Shazly called on the Egyptian army to end “the policy of treason and the alliance with Zionism and imperialism” and to overthrow the regime and Sadat’s successor. His call was broadcast by Libyan television which can be picked up throught most of the Middle East.

Shazly also congratulated “the brave men who acted against the traitor (Sadat) to Egypt” and carried out the assassination. The former Chief of Staff is still very popular with the Egyptian army which credits him with having led it to “victory” in the Yom Kippur War. In Beirut, a man claiming to represent a previously unknown group, the “Independent Egyptian Liberation Organization,” said this group is led by Shazly and was responsible for assassinating Sadat.

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