The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel

The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel

يغطي كتاب "الملاك" لمؤلفه يوري بار – جوزيف إحدى أكثر قصص الجاسوسية إثارة في القرن العشرين؛ الحياة الباهرة والموت المريب لأشرف مروان، الموظف الم?...

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Title:The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel
Author:Uri Bar-Joseph
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The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel Reviews

  • Eric Gartman

    The incredible true-life story of Ashraf Marwan, the Egyptian spy who worked for the Mossad before, during, and after the landmark October 1973 War, receives the full treatment it finally deserves by Uri Bar-Joseph, the world’s top authority on the intelligence failure prior to the 1973 War. Not only do we get a gripping real-life spy thriller, we are treated to analytic explanations of why certain events occurred, analysis that is based on incomplete evidence, but that professors Bar-Joseph so

    The incredible true-life story of Ashraf Marwan, the Egyptian spy who worked for the Mossad before, during, and after the landmark October 1973 War, receives the full treatment it finally deserves by Uri Bar-Joseph, the world’s top authority on the intelligence failure prior to the 1973 War. Not only do we get a gripping real-life spy thriller, we are treated to analytic explanations of why certain events occurred, analysis that is based on incomplete evidence, but that professors Bar-Joseph so admirably explains. For the first time, we are told how important Marwan’s information was to the war effort. Bar-Joseph concludes that without Marwan’s warning, the Golan Heights would have fallen in the second day of the war, as the reserves that saved it would not have been called up. Similarly, an Egyptian rocket attack that was intercepted as the Israeli Air Force knew the Egyptian battle plan, would have killed dozens or more in Tel Aviv. Nor were Marwan’s activities limited to the 1973 War. He warned the Mossad of a plot to shoot down an Israeli air liner with four hundred passengers in Rome. This plot was quickly foiled. Perhaps the biggest question of all, why Marwan chose to spy for Israel, is attributed to his large ego, but most of all to his need for excitement and action. In sum, this book is not only action-packed, but insightful as well. Highly recommended!

  • Thabet

    This book is one of the best books I've read recently. Regardless of your opinion on whether Marwan was a double agent or a Mossad spy, there are a few amazing things about this book:

    1. The documentation that the Israeli government had. Meeting notes from critical meetings are citied, although I haven't seen the original sources myself, the fact that the author references exact meetings and notes and links them in the appendix adds a lot more weight vs. the view from the Egyptian gov

    This book is one of the best books I've read recently. Regardless of your opinion on whether Marwan was a double agent or a Mossad spy, there are a few amazing things about this book:

    1. The documentation that the Israeli government had. Meeting notes from critical meetings are citied, although I haven't seen the original sources myself, the fact that the author references exact meetings and notes and links them in the appendix adds a lot more weight vs. the view from the Egyptian government, where no official details were shared.

    2. The professionalism of the whole Israeli government when it comes to protecting the identify of Marwan (not, of course, out of the goodness of anyone's heart, but to ensure other high quality spies can cooperate with the Mossad in the future). This is apparent even during the 73 war when cabinet meetings didn't even refer to him as The Angel. The way they broke reports from Marwan into piece, and even when the MI ex-chief leaked Marawn's identity 30+ years later, they went after him and sued him.

    3. Finally [spoiler/opinion alert] I think the book left two main topics not fully resolved: 1. Did Sadat suspect Marwan's actions (assuming Marwan wasn't a double agent) and that's why he kept Marwan in the dark about the actual day of the war till Marwan discovered it by chance? Or was that pure luck and 2. The hypothesis put forward in the book is that Egypt killed Marwan, but the way it was killed was overtly saying: Egypt killed Marwan, which seems to be a weakness the author ignores. If Egypt wanted to kill him and hide it (as apparent by the statement from Mubarak and his funeral), wouldn't Egypt have killed him differently?

    Amazing book.

  • Steven Z.

    October, 1973 was a traumatic period for the Arab-Israeli conflict which greatly affected the American economy. On October 6th, Arab armies attacked Israel on Yom Kippur morning and the ensuing war resulted in an Arab oil embargo against the United States that brought long lines at gas stations, a spike in prices, and rationing. The situation for Israel grew dire at the outset of the conflict, but after 21 days of fighting the Israeli Defense Forces proved victorious on the battlefield, though i

    October, 1973 was a traumatic period for the Arab-Israeli conflict which greatly affected the American economy. On October 6th, Arab armies attacked Israel on Yom Kippur morning and the ensuing war resulted in an Arab oil embargo against the United States that brought long lines at gas stations, a spike in prices, and rationing. The situation for Israel grew dire at the outset of the conflict, but after 21 days of fighting the Israeli Defense Forces proved victorious on the battlefield, though it can be argued the war resulted in a psychological defeat. No matter how the outcome is evaluated the situation for Israel could have been a lot worse had it not been for Ashraf Marwan, an Egyptian who spied for the Mossad who happened to be Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser’s son-in-law, and following Nasser’s death a close aide to his successor Anwar Sadat, which provided him with access to his country’s deepest secrets. The story of how Marwan provided the Mossad information that should have allowed Israel to be on greater alert when the war came is effectively told by Uri Bar-Joseph, an Israeli academic with expertise in Israeli intelligence, in his new book, THE ANGEL: THE EGYPTIAN SPY WHO SAVED ISRAEL.

    Bar-Joseph’s narrative follows Marwan from his rise to a position of power within the Egyptian government to his untimely death in 2007 when he was probably pushed over a terrace and fell to his death. Marwan was a corrupt egoist who felt he deserved a powerful position in government. His marriage to Nasser’s daughter was a step in achieving his goals. The impediment was the fact that his father-in-law held a very low opinion of his son-in-law. Intelligence sources made Nasser aware of Marwan’s avaricious lifestyle and he tried to get his daughter to divorce him. When she refused Nasser allowed Marwan to work at a low level position in his office that he greatly resented, which in large part provided a rationale for him to turn to espionage to acquire wealth.

    Bar-Joseph traces how Marwan gained access to Egyptian state secrets and analyzes why he chose to spy for Israel’s greatest enemy. In assessing Marwan, Bar-Joseph concludes that his subject engaged in espionage for two reasons. First, was financial. Marwan needed money, but despite his contacts he was limited in influence because of Nasser’s Spartan approach toward his family. If he was going to achieve the lifestyle he craved he would have to find a source of income that Nasser’s intelligence people could not uncover. The second motive was Marwan’s ego. Marwan craved power, but realized he was blocked by his father-in-law. In his own mind he would show Nasser by turning to his father-in-law’s greatest enemy. Disloyalty to Nasser was the solution for his financial and psychological crisis.

    Bar-Joseph does an excellent job explaining the marriage of Marwan and Israeli intelligence. He describes in detail how Marwan offered his services and the vetting done by the Mossad. The author takes the reader inside the Israeli intelligence community as they evaluate Marwan the person and as the relationship flourished, as well as the information that he made available. Bar-Joseph discusses a number of important personalities, the positions they occupied, and their reactions to each other. The key for the Israelis was to determine whether Marwan was a double agent. Almost immediately the valuable material he provided trumped the idea he could have been playing them. Though Bar-Joseph has a somewhat trenchant writing style, the picture he paints and many of the details he shares have never been published before and makes the book a very important work.

    One of the keys to Marwan’s success was the Sadat-Marwan relationship as each needed the other. Once Sadat assumed the Egyptian presidency he needed a link to Nasser’s family which did not think a great deal of him. For Marwan, Sadat was a vehicle to improve his overall position in government to allow him to gain access to state secrets and new sources of wealth. Marwan’s success was his ability to provide the Mossad Egypt’s most closely guarded secrets concerning plans to attack Israel. For example, plans to cross the Suez Canal and establish a bridgehead in the Sinai, which came to fruition in October, 1973. Further he provided notes of Egyptian meetings with the Soviet Union that showed that Moscow did not think Egypt was ready for war as well as the minutes of a Sadat-Brezhnev meeting in 1971 that was later shared with the United States. Because of Marwan Israeli leaders developed a very accurate picture of Egypt’s intentions regarding war and peace, particularly that if Egypt attacked it would not be a comprehensive move to reconquer the Sinai. Israeli military intelligence firmly believed, much to their detriment in October, 1973 that Egypt would never attack until they solved the problem of Israeli military superiority.

    Bar-Joseph traces the development of Sadat’s strategic thinking as he pressured the Russians to provide the necessary long rang planes, missiles, and air defense to allow an attack on Israel since he did not see a way to recover the Sinai through diplomatic means. By August, 1973, the Russians would provide most of the necessary weaponry, leaving out SCUD missiles, a key item because Israeli military intelligence believed that Sadat would never launch an attack until he received the SCUDS. As early as June, 1973 Marwan warned the Israelis that Sadat was changing his approach to war and decided he could attack Israel even if his forces were inferior. The problem for Israel was that the head of its Military Intelligence branch, General Eli Zeira refused to revise his thinking and could not accept that Egypt possessed the where with all to launch an attack. Further, Zeira refused to accept the fact that Marwan was not a double agent. When the decision for war was made and Sadat asked the Russians to leave Egypt, Zeira believed that Sadat would now take a more defensive approach toward war, but for Sadat he had removed a major impediment to launching an attack.

    The author provides the details of all the warnings that Marwan provided the Israelis as early as April 11, 1973 that Sadat had altered his thinking and an attack would come in the late spring or early summer. Israeli military intelligence continued to mistakenly believe that Egypt would not launch an attack until it received SCUD missiles from the Soviets. Marwan provided information of Egypt’s preparations for war as well as the developing alliance with Syria. Throughout Marwan’s intelligence was dead on, but the Israelis did not analyze it correctly. For Bar-Joseph his most important theme that he reiterates throughout the book is that as war finally approached by September, 1973 “Israel’s military intelligence was under the command of a group of officers whose commitment to a specific intelligence paradigm was unwavering, almost religious, even though it had been obviated by events almost a year earlier.”

    What is fascinating about Bar-Joseph’s account is the detail he provides, particularly, an almost hour by hour account of the two days leading up to the war. For example, the Israeli reaction to Marwan’s warning of October 4th that war was imminent, but the bureaucratic structure of Israel’s intelligence operations did not allow for the proper response and warnings to Golda Meir’s government. The author does a credible job following the actions and views of all the major historical figures who were involved in the decision making on the eve of the fighting. Even though Eli Zeira and those he influenced were unwilling to take Marwan’s warnings seriously which resulted in a spectacular intelligence failure, his information did speed up Israel’s reserve call up and other crucial decisions that saved them from an even greater military disaster than what occurred.

    Once the war ended Marwan assumed a greater diplomatic role working directly with Sadat. He became the liaison with Libya, Saudi Arabia and Syria, but also with Henry Kissinger as the United States tried to achieve a lasting ceasefire. Even as Marwan worked to bring unity to the Arab world he was reporting to the Mossad. Marwan’s influence then began to wane and he was forced to leave the government on March 1, 1976, but remained in the background working on a weapons consortium. After Sadat’s assassination in 1981 he began a new chapter in his life moving to London. Throughout he maintained his contacts with the Mossad, but after the Camp David Accords in 1979 he became a low priority for Tel Aviv.

    Bar-Joseph spends the latter part of his study conjecturing on who outed Marwan as an Israeli spy, and how he died in 2007. His speculations do not reach concrete conclusions on either score, but Marwan dies shortly after he was outed, leading to all kinds of conspiracy theories that the author addresses. Overall, Bar-Joseph describes an amazing life integrating all the major players in Marwan’s career as a spy. Though, at times the book becomes bogged down in detail and is overly wordy, it is worth exploring because it is an important story that deals with a very sensitive topic.

  • Mal Warwick

    The history of the state of Israel is one of continuous war punctuated by intermittent stretches of peace. The open military conflicts the young nation has experienced have always threatened its continuing existence, but none more so than the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Never before and never since has Israel come closer to annihilation.

    In The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel, the Israeli political scientist Uri Bar-Joseph tells the little-known tale of Ashraf Marwan. This son-in

    The history of the state of Israel is one of continuous war punctuated by intermittent stretches of peace. The open military conflicts the young nation has experienced have always threatened its continuing existence, but none more so than the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Never before and never since has Israel come closer to annihilation.

    In The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel, the Israeli political scientist Uri Bar-Joseph tells the little-known tale of Ashraf Marwan. This son-in-law of President Gamal Abdel Nasser and close adviser to his successor, Anwar Sadat, was also a spy for the Mossad. Marwan’s reports to his handler enabled the Israeli Defense Force to recover from the surprise of the initial Egyptian and Syrian attack and soon turn the tide.

    A remarkable episode in Israeli history

    Marwan’s story is astonishing. As a supremely ambitious young man, he married Nasser’s daughter. Marwan made the mistake of misjudging his father-in-law. When the puritanical president learned that Marwan was using his position to enrich himself, he cast the young man adrift. Bar-Joseph speculates that Marwan’s desire to exert revenge on Nasser led him to offer himself as an informant for the Mossad.

    The making of an Egyptian spy

    Nasser died in 1970 when Marwan was just 26 years of age. He cleverly maneuvered himself into the good graces of Anwar Sadat by undermining the Nasserite faction during the confusion when the country’s new leadership was in question. In short order, Marwan became Sadat’s personal representative to other Middle Eastern leaders, including King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and President Moammar Gaddhafi of Libya. These connections, and his closeness to Sadat, enabled him to amass a large personal fortune while reporting to the Israelis on a regular basis.

    Doubts about Marwan’s authenticity

    Marwan’s reports in the early 1970s frequently reached the desk of Prime Minister Golda Meir. But he was not universally regarded as reliable within the Israeli intelligence community. In fact, for the rest of his life there were those in the Israeli military intelligence leadership who maintained that Marwan was a double agent, placed to mislead Israel at important junctures. It was this skepticism that led several key Israeli leaders to disregard several of Marwan’s early warnings of the impending Egyptian-Syrian attack. Only on the day of the attack itself was his last, desperate message heeded at the highest levels. Though it came only hours before the Egyptians crossed the Suez Canal, the warning time was sufficient for the IDF to avoid catastrophe.

    Espionage and egotism

    Bar-Joseph explains at great length how distrust of Marwan came to be so widespread not just in the Israeli government and military but among the public as well. The head of military intelligence when the Yom Kippur War broke out had rejected Marwan’s report of the imminent attack—and for decades afterward he insisted in press interviews and in a widely read book that Marwan was a double agent. Bar-Joseph details the evidence refuting the double agent hypothesis and makes clear that Marwan’s chief critic was motivated by a desire to avoid blame for his failure to act on the warnings he received. Little wonder, since his stubborn refusal to accept reality was one of the most shameful acts in Israeli history.

    About the author

    Uri Bar-Joseph is an Israeli political scientist who has written the definitive book on the intelligence failures that caused his country to come close to losing the Yom Kippur War. The Angel focuses on the role of the intelligence establishment’s relationship with the spy whose reports were decisive in enabling an Israeli victory.

  • Daniel Sevitt

    Plenty of juicy spycraft anecdotes here that are so bonkers they must be true. Speculation about the reasons someone choose to become a spy is fascinating even as it remains mere speculation.

    The real strength of the book is revealing the mundane way that individual reactions to military intelligence and its source can impact the way a country goes to war. There were serious failures in 1973 and the book lays them at the feet of specific personalities. Harsh, but somewhat convincing also.

    The fi

    Plenty of juicy spycraft anecdotes here that are so bonkers they must be true. Speculation about the reasons someone choose to become a spy is fascinating even as it remains mere speculation.

    The real strength of the book is revealing the mundane way that individual reactions to military intelligence and its source can impact the way a country goes to war. There were serious failures in 1973 and the book lays them at the feet of specific personalities. Harsh, but somewhat convincing also.

    The final chapters are more speculative, but it's fine to leave a little mystery behind.

  • Jim D

    Another exceptional book by this expert on Arab- Israeli conflicts. I have read one of his previous books and find him easy to read and very thorough. This particular book deals with a real world mystery concerning a high ranking Egyptian who was providing Israeli intelligence up to date information in the years and days leading up to the 1973 war. The fact that the Israeli's discounted his warning until it was almost too late is one of the main themes of the story. Other themes that emerge are

    Another exceptional book by this expert on Arab- Israeli conflicts. I have read one of his previous books and find him easy to read and very thorough. This particular book deals with a real world mystery concerning a high ranking Egyptian who was providing Israeli intelligence up to date information in the years and days leading up to the 1973 war. The fact that the Israeli's discounted his warning until it was almost too late is one of the main themes of the story. Other themes that emerge are the insinuations that he was a double agent, and that he purposely provided false warnings in the past. Top it all off with his mysterious death from a balcony in London. Who killed him ... or was it a suicide? This story is what movies are made of, but it is true. Highly recommend.

  • Koustubh

    Ashraf Marwan an Egyptian Aristocrat inn this book who was a spy with his spy name "Angel" makes a reader wonder if he was an angel in reality for Israel. The only spy who is considered a patriot in Egypt as well in Israel captures readers imagination and makes one to think of spying more deeply with very inquisitive mind.

  • Mohamed Shehab

    I 've read a lot of books regarding this era of time about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Although the storyline is reasonable, I think the book is completely biased to a specific side. There are a lot of historical mistakes (or Let's say points of view) devaluating the strength of the Egyptian preparations and tactics before and during the 1973 war! So the credibility of the book cannot be taken for granted and is questionable!

    My opinion is that Ashraf Marwan wasn't loyal neither to Israel nor to

    I 've read a lot of books regarding this era of time about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Although the storyline is reasonable, I think the book is completely biased to a specific side. There are a lot of historical mistakes (or Let's say points of view) devaluating the strength of the Egyptian preparations and tactics before and during the 1973 war! So the credibility of the book cannot be taken for granted and is questionable!

    My opinion is that Ashraf Marwan wasn't loyal neither to Israel nor to Egypt, but he cooperated with all the key players just for his own interests. Seeking a fast wealth could lead him to deal with Israelis in espionage affairs as well as he did with the Saudis and Libyans in their armistice deals. (Mr. 50%)

    On the other hand, seeking power and being in the middle of the Egyptian power centricity could drive him to aid the Egyptian intelligence and achieve some specific intelligent tasks before and during the 1973 war. He was more likely to be a double agent based on the analysis the book's author did on Marwan's controversial personal character not only to the storyline (which is explicitly only from an Israeli point of view)

    Moreover, The fact that Marwan worked with two different presidents and being awarded the highest medal of the Egyptian republic cannot disclaim an ongoing surveillance from the Egyptian intelligence on him personally over years. (Especially- as the author mentioned several times that intelligent reports on him never stopped since he got married to Nasser's daughter Mona)

    In a comparison to similar stories of Eli Cohen (An Israeli spy who reached the peak of the Syrian presidential hierarchy during the 1960's) and Shula Cohen (who formed an espionage nexus in Beirut from top-ranked Lebanese officials), we find that both were discovered and caught. so how can imagine that the Egyptian intelligence wouldn't be able to discover a spy at the president's office during a war If he was really a spy to Israel ??

    The Egyptian Mukhabarat (Secret Intelligence Services) got rid of him when he was linked to the Mossad in the beginning of 2000's to avoid any embarrassment. His death was planned in the same way used with Soad Housseny (a famous Egyptian actress-when she declared she would write her personal memoir mentioning her personal stories with top-ranked Egyptian officials) 

    Anyways his death ended, by all means, a story of a genuine corrupted man!

  • Ammar

    This book will be the basis of the Netflix movie called The Angel to be released in Sept 2018.

    This book is about Ashraf Marwan who was married to the daughter of the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser and how he climbed up to become the right hand man to President Sadat.

    At the same time he was an Israeli military intelligence agent, and he was able to send Israel many important details about the tactics and training and arm deals leading to the war of 73.

    The Israelis didn’t believe everyth

    This book will be the basis of the Netflix movie called The Angel to be released in Sept 2018.

    This book is about Ashraf Marwan who was married to the daughter of the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser and how he climbed up to become the right hand man to President Sadat.

    At the same time he was an Israeli military intelligence agent, and he was able to send Israel many important details about the tactics and training and arm deals leading to the war of 73.

    The Israelis didn’t believe everything he gave them and if they did then the history of the Middle East would have been totally different.

    Easy read

    Not too complicated

  • The Jewish Book Council

    "Since Ashraf Marwan was exposed as a Mossad agent, the debate over Marwan’s true loyalties has centered on whether he was a double agent for Egyptian intelligence."

    for the Jewish Book Council.

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