'The Angel': The Egyptian Spy Who Warned Israel About the Yom Kippur War
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Ashraf Marwan was born in Cairo in 1944 to a father with a long military career. In 1966, Marwan married Mona Nasser, the Egyptian president’s third daughter, and was instantly drawn into Egypt’s elite circles. After President Nasser’s death, he became a key adviser to President Sadat.
He began working for the Mossad in 1970, passing information to Israel about Cairo’s military capabilities. At his first meeting in London with his Mossad handler, Dubi, Marwan handed over an envelope of official Egyptian state documents.
Shmuel Goren, the European head of Mossad at the time, reportedly said that day, ‘Material like this from a source like this is something that happens once in a thousand years.’ Marwan was code-named ‘The Angel’.
Fourteen hours before the Yom Kippur War broke out on October 6th 1973, Marwan met the then head of Mossad, Zvi Zamir, in Europe with a crucial warning: Egypt and Syria will launch a joint attack tomorrow.
At 8am the next morning the Israeli cabinet met in an emergency session. They decided to act upon Marwan’s information and began to mobilise their tanks. This time the information was correct, although it was four hours out: Marwan warned that the Egyptians would strike at sunset. The invasion began four hours earlier, at 2pm.
Marwan was believed to have acted for a range of incentives: money, admiration for the Mossad, personal frustrations and a desire for revenge. It’s difficult to know for certain - on June 27th, 2007, Marwan’s body was found in the rose garden below his third floor upscale London apartment. Whether he fell or was pushed remains unclear.