Part 2 of 2, find part 1 here
Uri Bar-Joseph, a former intelligence analyst in the Israeli army, published his book The Angel in 2016, in which he claimed Ashraf Marwan was a spy for the Mossad, and that he is the one who presented himself to the Israeli intelligence while he was in the British capital London. The book is based on interviews with former officials in the Israeli intelligence services and documents from Ashraf Marwan’s file, revealing a lot of hidden details about his life.
These security officials claimed that Ashraf Marwan called the Israeli embassy in London and asked to speak to a member of its security team, and then expressed his willingness to work for the Israeli intelligence. He was ignored more than twice, and then Marwan left a message identifying himself by name, and showed, once again, his willingness to work for the Israeli intelligence agency. According to the Israeli Chief of the Southern Command, Shmuel Gonen, it was then that the Mossad director at the time, Zvi Zamir, realised the valuable catch he had, prompting the Mossad to open a file for Marwan as a potential spy.
They began by giving him an envelope to deliver to an intelligence official he met at a café in London. He said this is an example of what I can give you. I will not ask for anything now, but I do expect payment at the next meeting.” The fee was £100,000, and that became the amount paid for every encounter with them. One Israeli source claims that he received $3 million while working for the Mossad.
At first, the Mossad was suspicious of Marwan’s intentions, wondering if he was planning to be a double agent and to provide incorrect information to the Israelis or if he would pass on secrets about his father in law, i.e. Gamal Abdel Nasser. Marwan reassured them that he was frustrated with Egypt’s defeat within six hours during the 1967 war and wanted to be on the winning side.
After the Israeli intelligence examined the documents and deemed them to be authentic, the Mossad agents decided that materials such as these from a source like this only happens once every 1,000 years. One agent even said, “We have someone sleeping in Abdel Nasser’s bed.”
The Mossad chose two codenames for Ashraf Marwan. One was “Agent Babel”, and the other was “Groom”. This marked the beginning of his journey in the world of espionage, during which Mossad Director during the October 1973 war, Zvi Zamir, said that Marwan “provided important services as a Mossad agent since his recruitment in the late 1960s. He provided Israel with important information.”
Perhaps the most dangerous information he passed on was informing the Israelis about when the October 1973 war would be waged. Ashraf Marwan called his handler from Paris and warned against an upcoming Egyptian attack on 6 October. The Israeli ministerial committee held an emergency meeting and decided to take action based on Marwan’s information. They began to mobilise and deploy their tanks, but it was too late, as he told them the attack would take place at sundown, but it occurred at 2 pm.
The Egyptian government completely ignored this book and did not follow it up with denial and refute the Israeli novel, which makes readers fall prey to it, especially since it seems coherent in light of the absence of an official Egyptian narrative. The same is true when this book was recently turned into a film produced by Netflix, bearing the same name, The Angel, a name that carries a lot of spirituality.
The film is far less impressive than the book, which was characterised by suspense, thrill, and its charming style, along with the documents it contains. The film is generally artistically weak, poor regarding production and full of historical errors. The writers did not correctly utilise the mysterious, ambiguous, complex character of Ashraf Marwan dramatically in a manner that matches the richness of the character to weave an intense and exciting scenario. Instead, it seems shaky, weak, and boring, while the production did not cover the weakness of the script, which had no creativity. The film ended with the message they wanted to convey, i.e. Ashraf Marwan saved Israel and its people.
There is no doubt that Israel chose the timing for the release of the film, shortly before the celebrations of Egypt’s commemoration of the October 1973 War. It picked this time to deal a morale blow to the Egyptian people by revealing that the son-in-law of the Arab nationalist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, whose main enemy is Israel and which he wants to wipe off the face of the Earth, was a Mossad agent.
Unfortunately, the government did not officially respond to this dangerous accusation that shook the ground under our feet and left us prey to speculation and analysis without having any documented information other than that appearing in an Israelis novel.
However, not everything Israel publishes is the truth, just like not everything it says is necessarily a lie or fabricated. This makes it confusing to address the book or the film. It is astonishing that the voices of the Nasserites have not been heard at a momentous time like this, as very few have hesitantly refuted the Israeli novel and claimed that Ashraf Marwan provided significant services to Egypt with his contact with the Israelis. A few argued that he was a double agent, but the majority of them remained silent, as they have become sympathetic to the government, have common interests and relations with them, and even translate their books!
One question remains: Did President Gamal Abdel Nasser know about his son in-law’s spying? Did President Sadat know about it?
Ashraf Marwan was mysterious in his life and became a confusing riddle after his death.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.